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Mr. Smarty Plants - Native substitute for traditional Christmas tree

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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

 

 

 

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