En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - August 03, 2007

From: Austin , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Alternatives to tuliptree and red maple in Central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in southwest Austin, TX, nearby a creek. The soil is very heavy with clay. I've been perusing web sites for trees, and we like the "Summer Red Maple" and "Tulip Poplar" trees very much, mostly for their proported briiliant cover even in Texas, and good shade. Do you know if these trees will really grow well here?

ANSWER:

Although both trees grow in Texas, their occurrence is in East Texas and not in Central Texas. Both Liriodendron tulipifera (tuliptree or tulip poplar) and Acer rubrum (red maple) like acidic soils (pH<6.8) like those of East Texas. Additionally, the tulip tree doesn't tolerate compacted soils so I think you would have very poor luck trying to grow it in our Austin clay. There are alternatives, however. Acer grandidentatum (bigtooth maple) does very well in Austin and has beautiful fall foliage. This is the tree of Lost Maples State Natural Area. There are two oaks, Quercus buckleyi (Buckley oak or Texas oak) and Quercus shumardii (Shumard's oak), that have beautiful red fall foliage and also grow well in our area. Two other choices that are small trees/large shrubs are Cotinus obovatus (American smoketree) and Rhus lanceolata (prairie sumac).

 


Acer grandidentatum

Quercus buckleyi

Cotinus obovatus

Rhus lanceolata

 

 

More Trees Questions

How can I prune my Texas Mountain Laurels to be more tree-like?
March 24, 2011 - I planted several Texas Mountain Laurels last spring and would like to train them to be more tree-like rather than shrub-like. Each is around 36" tall with 5-10 trunks coming from the ground. Where...
view the full question and answer

Growing a Texas Mountain Laurel in Pennsylvania
May 20, 2012 - Can I grow a Texas Mt. Laurel in Lancaster, PA?
view the full question and answer

Waht are the truly native Texas trees
August 20, 2007 - What two trees are truly native to Texas? I was told pecan and can't remember the other.
view the full question and answer

Live oak leaves yellowing from Denton TX
January 26, 2012 - In autumn of 2010 I planted 10 live oaks about 6 to 7 ft. tall. I have see that during the month of Dec. 2011 to Jan. 2012 they are showing some yellow leaves. What can I do to help them?
view the full question and answer

Washingtonia palms need to be skirted?
August 31, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have five Washingtonia palms on my property that have never been skirted and look rather shabby. The interesting thing is that they have thrived (20-30 ft) here to begin with...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center