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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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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - May 20, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identity of 50 ft. tree
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Austin and I have a tall (50-ft) tree outside my window. It's deciduous and has shiny, deep green, spear-tip, serrated leaves that vary in size from about hand- to dinner-plate size. I've never noticed any flower or fruit. It tolerates direct sun all day. The trunk divides about every ten feet. I thought it might be Ash, but I'm no tree guy.

ANSWER:

About the only tree I can think of with leaves that large is Firmiana simplex (Chinese parasol tree).  As the common name suggest, it is a native of Asia—China and Japan.  Here is another photo and more information and yet more information and another photo. 

If this doesn't happen to be your mystery tree, I think we are going to need some photos to determine what it is. See the the lower right corner of the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page (under "Plant Identification") for instructions on submitting photos for identification.  Please take pictures of the leaves and also of the trunk.

 

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