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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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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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Sunday - June 08, 2008

From: Palo Pinto, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Shrubs
Title: Care for Vauquelinia angustifolia (Chisos Rosewood)
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello, I have another question for you. A friend has given me a plant called "Chisos Rosewood" which they bought on a whim but decided they couldn't use. It's said to be evergreen. It's about 4 feet tall and very thin leaves. Will this work in my area? We have dry sandy soil, and there are both sunny and shady areas where I could put it. Would it need protection from cold or from deer?

ANSWER:

Lucky you, you should write a thank you note to the donors of this plant. It is a little-known desert shrub or small tree that is just now being introduced into cultivation, but it seems to be an excellent plant. Vauquelinia corymbosa ssp. angustifolia (slimleaf rosewood) is endemic to the Chisos Mountains of West Texas, thus the common name of Chisos Rosewood. It is a member of the Rosaceae Family, so it comes by the name "Rosewood" legitimately. Besides the information on our Native Plant Database (above) we found a couple more good websites on this plant. From The Dirt Doctor this article on Chisos Rosewood gives it high marks, warning only that it can be susceptible to rose leaf spot in high humidity area, which I don't think is going to be a problem in Palo Pinto. This Texas A&M Horticulture site on Vauquelinia angustifolia says it should have full sun, and it has high heat tolerance.

We never did find an explicit answer for your question on protection from deer, but after looking at this picture from the site Chihuahuan Desert Plants, we're betting that deer, who shy away from prickly things, will not put it on their menus. Of course, you know that when times are hard enough, deer will eat about anything that can't run away, so you just have to learn from experience. And, on the subject of cold tolerance, the native habitat of the Chisos Rosewood is in the Trans-Pecos of West Texas, at elevations of 3,000 to 5,000 feet. It gets pretty cold at those elevations, even in the desert. It would appear that Palo Pinto is in USDA Hardiness Zone 7b, which would mean the average minimum temperatures would be 10 deg to 5 deg. The best we can figure from that map, the Chisos Mountains would be in about the same zone. If you're concerned about cold hardiness, plant the bush in a sheltered, south-facing exposure, in the sun, of course.

Since we have only one picture of this plant in our Image Gallery, here is a page of pictures of the Chisos Rosewood. Be aware that some of the Google Images pages include a lot of stuff that isn't what you really asked for, but there are some pictures of the plant you're interested in.

 

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