En EspaÑol

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
1 rating

Monday - April 11, 2005

From: Atlanta, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Smarty Plants on southern magnolia
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I live in East Texas and there are two 50-year-old southern magnolia trees in front of my house on the highway right-of-way marked to be destroyed. The Texas Department of Transportation has allowed these trees to remain over the years, but now they say they have to go because they want to put in a curb and gutter system through Main St. leading up to their District office. We have flooding problems maybe once every 30 years and it is in the area away from these trees where there is a creek that could be utilized more efficiently instead! Can you tell me if a southern magnolia is considered a wildflower and give me an educated "guesstimate" of how much these trees are worth in general?            


Most people would not consider magnolia trees wildflowers. We would, but we take a broader view of the term wildflower to include any native flowering plant. Magnolia certainly fits those criteria. The value of your trees will depend on many factors, but the replacement cost for large caliper trees can run into thousands of dollars. However, whether or not a plant is a wildflower gives it no legal protection unless it is an endangered species. Magnolias are not endangered. It seems, though, that the issues you face are largely legal and political, for which we really cannot give you much useful advice. Of course, an attorney would be able to advise you of your legal rights, and of those of the city or highway department as well. Local garden clubs, environmental groups, newspapers or sympathetic city leaders might prove helpful in your efforts to save your trees. Best of luck.


From the Image Gallery

Southern magnolia
Magnolia grandiflora

More Trees Questions

Pecan leaves falling of the trees in Austin, TX.
August 08, 2012 - Why are the pecan tree leaves turning black, sappy and falling off the trees, in great quantities? This has happened since the recent rains, all through the Allandale area.
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of one Desert Willow in Phoenix AZ
September 06, 2013 - We planted 4 desert willow trees in the summer and 3 of the 4 are doing excellent, however the last one is not not doing so well, it was the smallest of all and it started out fine but its leaves bega...
view the full question and answer

Male pollinator to produce berries on Juniperus virginiana from Amston CT
November 08, 2012 - We have planted 3 juniperus virginiana 'Glauca' (on our Connecticut property) that have a few blue berries on them. Will they need a male pollinator to make berries? We do not have other juniperus...
view the full question and answer

Can a mustang grape and an oak coexist in Austin
November 04, 2009 - I have a healthy mustang grape vine growing on an oak in my yard. While the vine provides plenty of good food and a pleasant environment for many birds throughout the year, I feel it is overtaking the...
view the full question and answer

Further explanation of retaining walls and trees from Washington MO
March 11, 2013 - I had a question previously about putting retaining walls across the root system of a 40' tall bald cypress tree(not like spokes on a wheel, but concentric to tree trunk). How wide can the walls be? ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center