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

Saturday - December 01, 2007

From: West Lake Hills, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Native substitute for traditional Christmas tree
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Could you give some recommendations for a substitute of the traditional Christmas tree used during the holiday season? The low light/humidity conditions in the home is a challenge under any circumstance but we would like to have something native to the Austin area that would help celebrate the season, yet be more environmentally responsibile than cutting a living tree and sending it to the mulch pile later. Maybe we can start new traditions!

ANSWER:

Since late fall/winter is the best time to plant new trees, why not go to your favorite nursery specializing in native plants—you can find a list in our National Suppliers Directory—and pick out one of our native evergreen shrubs/small trees and have yourself a living Christmas tree. You can maintain it inside covered with your favorite decorations and lights and then plant it outdoors as soon as Christmas is over. Here are several suggestions:

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel). Of course, it won't have the beautiful flowers until spring.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon). You might be able to find one to purchase that is covered in red berries.

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac). Again, you might be able to find one covered with red berries, but it may be a little late for them.

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry). The berries are blue and may be gone by now.

Leucophyllum frutescens (cenizo). You might find one in bloom.

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar). If you find one with blue berries on it (a female tree), you will know that you aren't going to be spreading pollen for allergies.


Sophora secundiflora

Ilex vomitoria

Rhus virens

Prunus caroliniana

Leucophyllum frutescens

Juniperus virginiana

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Smaller trees for limited space in yard in Austin
March 29, 2011 - Follow up to "I have a choice of three shade trees from the city of Austin. They are Live Oak, Elm, Cedar. Although I am happy to have a free tree, I think the choices are not the best for my home. I...
view the full question and answer

Injury from non-native Canary Palm from Torrance CA
October 18, 2013 - I got stuck in the eye a yr ago by a Phoenix canariensis. It went through my retina and through the integral chamber and put a stamp on my lense. There was no room for any more err without causing bli...
view the full question and answer

Plants for streambank area in Oregon
September 14, 2012 - I am ready to replant a streambank area with native plants..what do you recommend for the Willamette Valley in Oregon? Thanks much!
view the full question and answer

Small green balls falling from oaks in Hunt TX
May 03, 2014 - Our live oak trees have pin-sized black and green balls falling from them (there are so may that is sounds like rain!) The balls are not associated with or fall with the catkins. Thanks for your ass...
view the full question and answer

Native tree for cemetery in Western Oklahoma
May 06, 2009 - My siblings and I are wanting to plant a tree next to my Mother's grave at the cemetery. It is in Western Oklahoma so hot sun and constant high wind are both considerations to choosing the right tree...
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