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Friday - September 07, 2007

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Possibility of Amyris madrensis or Amyris texana growing in Dallas
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in the central city of Dallas, in the heart of the urban heat island (zone 8b). I am interested in Amyris madrensis and A. texensis. Will they survive winter here? Would they make a good evergreen screening hedge in addition to being a swallowtail larval plant? Do you have them growing at the center, and are they hardy there? Finally, if either of them would be satisfactory in my garden, do you have them for sale? Thanks very much.

ANSWER:

Sorry, it doesn't appear that either Amyris madrensis (mountain torchwood) or Amyris texana (Texas torchwood) is going to be a candidate for your Dallas landscape. It's a pity, because both have glossy green leaves, are evergreen (in their range), attract butterflies and have a luscious citrusy smell.

According to the USDA county distribution map, A. madrensis is found only in the counties at the southernmost tip of Texas, and is not believed to be hardy north of Houston. Read more about this species on this Texas A&M Extension website on A. madrensis. The Wildflower Center South Texas plant collection does include a specimen of Amyris madrensis, but it is only marginally hardy here in Austin. A hard winter will likely kill it one day.

Amyris texana is considered hardy to 20 degrees, and is also found in the southernmost counties and ranges up the coast into coastal marshes to the north and east. It is beginning to be used in landscaping in that area, but it seems unlikely that even in your "urban heat island" that you can guarantee winter survival of either of these plants.

You might, as an alternative evergreen, fragrant shrub for screening, consider the Morella cerifera (wax myrtle). It is also attractive to birds and has a fragrance that makes pruning almost fun. And the USDA county map shows the wax myrtle to be viable over the entire state of Texas.

In answer to your question on sale of these plants at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we have two plant sales a year, in April and October, the next sale being October 13 and 14. Although we raise a number of plants in our nurseries for these sales, we do not have the facilities to raise the larger shrubs and trees for sale. A number of approved native plant nursery businesses bring in a selection of the larger plants to sell on consignment. Our sales are all of native plants and almost exclusively those that can grow in our Central Texas home area, which would mean we would have neither of the shrubs you are interested in for sale. You can click on "Suppliers" under "Explore Plants" and find a list of approved native plant suppliers. In the search field, we put in "Amyris madrensis" and in the state, "Texas", of course, and received the message that the search got back no information, which probably means they are not widely available commercially. You might try the Suppliers list to find native plant providers in the Dallas area; there should be a website and/or a telephone number for any you are interested in contacting.

 

 

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