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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.

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Tuesday - April 01, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Native conifer bearing evergreen for noise reduction
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I asked the prior question about noise reduction and you gave me several choices. Thank you for that. Of the plants you suggested, the wax myrtle is the tallest and therefore probably best for my 2-story house. Are there any conifer bearing evergreens that I might try? I have a vision of the quiet of pine forest, but that may be completely unrealistic. I can be patient because I know it would be a long-term improvement. I forgot to mention that I live on a limestone shelf and only have about 4-6 inches of topsoil, which, I'm sure, was trucked in. I'm told to start with small plants whose roots can find their own way through the porous rock. There are a couple of good sized live oaks on the property that have managed to find room for their roots. PS. I love Mr. Smarty Plants and the Wildflower Center!


Conifers are plants that do not bear flowers, they bear cones. You could move to Bastrop, to the Lost Pines area around Bastrop State Park, and have your pine forest right there, but it's already quiet there, and we assume you weren't planning to relocate. There are some conifers that are more comfortable in the Austin area, but might not be your idea of a pine forest. Whether or not you can find a compromise that suits your situation, we'll at least try to give you enough information to make a decision. When you follow the weblink to the page on each tree, if you want to know more go all the way down to the bottom of the page, and find a line that says "Search Google for (name of plant)". You can then find a whole lot more information than we have room for in our Native Plant Database.

Pinus taeda (loblolly pine) - This is the pine that populates the Bastrop State Park. The area is separated from the main body of East Texas pines by about 100 miles of rolling post oak woodlands and is the farthest west stand of loblollies.

Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) - This is a beautiful tree, lovely cone shape, delicate green foliage, but it is deciduous.

Pinus cembroides (Mexican pinyon) - Native distribution is Central and West Texas, but native habitat is mesas or woodland slopes 5000 to 7000 feet in elevation.

Pinus echinata (shortleaf pine) - Native distribution in East Texas, needs a dry, acidic-based sandy soil.

Juniperus ashei (Ashe's juniper) - Okay, we know, major allergen. But you know it will grow here because it IS growing here, and it loves limestone shelves.

Juniperus pinchotii (Pinchot's juniper) - Native distribution in Central Texas, likes rocky sites, limestone-based soils.

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) - Native distribution in Central Texas. Another allergen-producer, but not quite as potent as Ashe Juniper.

Pinus taeda

Taxodium distichum

Pinus cembroides

Pinus echinata

Juniperus ashei

Juniperus pinchotii

Juniperus virginiana







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