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Mr. Smarty Plants - Fruit trees for South Austin.

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Friday - January 25, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Fruit trees for South Austin.
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in South, South Austin, just a pinch West of 35 near 1626. I would like to plant some fruit trees in the back yard. Anyone will sell fruit trees, but they don't always grow. What fruiting variety would be good for my area soil (some clay, lots of limestone chunks and a bit of sand). I don't want to just plant them and watch them die or not produce fruit. I am looking toward dwarf varieties if possible. Also, how many do I need to plant to get good pollination. Thanks, Julie

ANSWER:

There are several native (or "wild") fruit trees that will do well in Austin (e.g., Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum) and Prunus rivularis (creek plum)). However, I am going to guess that you are interested in cultivated plums, peaches, figs, apricots, etc. These are all cultivars of introduced non-native trees. For instance, Prunus persica (peach), probably originated in China and then was introduced to the Mediterranean before being brought to North America. Since our focus and expertise here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is with plants native to North America, we can't really be much help choosing cultivated fruit trees. A good resource for finding information about gardens and orchards is the Travis County Texas Cooperative Extension Service. Their web site gives a telephone number. You could contact them to see if they have a list of recommended varieties of fruit trees for Austin. Additionally, their Central Texas Horticulture page has information on Gardens & Orchards as well as Landscaping & Lawns and Ornamental Plants, to name a few.

Don't rule out the native fruit trees, however. The fruits of Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum), for instance, are small but delicious and make a very tasty jam. Additionally, they have beautiful spring blossoms. The ripe Diospyros virginiana (common persimmon) fruits are also delicious. There are other native plants that have edible fruits. If you would like to learn more about them, you can find a very good discussion in Delena Tull's Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest.

 


Prunus mexicana

Prunus rivularis

Diospyros virginiana
 

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