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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - December 10, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Native trees with yellow fall leaves
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Hello, I want to plant a medium sized tree in my back yard that has yellow foliage in the fall. I've seen Yellow (in the fall) trees in my part of town (south Austin around West William Cannon)that appear to be some type of oak tree. They appear to be wild trees because they are near a brand new subdivision. Before the area was recently developed it was all forested. These trees must have been there before the development. Any idea what kind of tree I've noticed in my neighborhood and what else can you recommend?


Mr. Smarty Plants thinks the most likely native tree with yellow leaves that you might have seen is Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii (western soapberry), a medium-sized tree. They have been rather spectacular this fall. Mr. SP is not aware of any oaks native to the Austin area with yellow fall leaves.

Other native possibilities with yellow fall foliage are:

Carya illinoinensis (pecan), large tree, fall color

Juglans nigra (black walnut), large tree, fall color

Juglans microcarpa (little walnut), medium tree

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash), medium to large tree, fall color

Ulmus crassifolia (cedar elm), medium tree, fall color

Prunus serotina var. eximia (black cherry), small to medium tree, fall color

Gleditsia triacanthos (honeylocust), medium to large tree, fall color

Hamamelis virginiana (American witchhazel), small tree, fall color

If you think the trees you saw were something different, send us a photo and we will do our best to identify them. Please read the instructions for submitting photos under "Plant Identification" on the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page.


More Trees Questions

Neighbor's Arizona ash roots in Houston
September 30, 2009 - There is a huge Arizona Ash tree in my neighbor's yard. Its trunk is about 27 feet away from the foundation of my house and its foliage reaches my roof. I am planning to dig a trench on my side of t...
view the full question and answer

Tulip tree with white spots on leaves in Mississippi
July 31, 2008 - I have a tulip tree in my yard that blooms in the spring that is about 10-15 years old. However just this past week or so we have noticed that there is lots of white spots on the leaves and the branc...
view the full question and answer

Information about FanTex ash.
April 29, 2008 - I live in central Texas and recenty planted Fan-tex ash trees thinking that they were similar to the native Texas ash. I am beginning to beleive that this tree has more in common with the Arizona ash...
view the full question and answer

Most numerous trees in the Piedmont NC from Chapel Hill NC
September 20, 2012 - What's a list of the most populous trees in piedmont North Carolina?
view the full question and answer

Natural privacy hedge for Kyle Texas
January 06, 2014 - I am looking to make a natural privacy screen in the Kyle Texas area. I am being pointed towards Leyland Cypress by some and told to shy away from this tree by others. I found Green Giant Arborvitae a...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center