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Saturday - March 28, 2009

From: Pearland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Replacement for trees destroyed by Hurricane Ike
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We had a 23 year old elm tree in our front yard that was uprooted from Hurricane Ike (about 50 feet tall)..can you tell us what the replacement costs for that would be? Also we had a 20 foot live oak and a 15 foot fig tree..know what those would cost to replace..thanks so much!


We are so very sorry about the loss of your trees. While we can provide you with some appropriate replacement suggestions for your trees, estimating expense is not possible. To begin with, you are not going to be able to purchase (or probably afford) an actual size for size replacement. A 20-foot live oak would require special equipment for transplanting and still probably find it difficult to survive. Because of that, we would not know what size tree you might eventually select. Pricing is going to vary widely from area to area, and even between two nurseries down the street from each other. And since we only sell plants twice a year in our plant sales, we have only standard prices by the size of the plant pot, as in 4-inch, 5-gallon, etc. in our particular area.  The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center only recommends plants native to North America and to the area in which they are being grown. It stands to reason that a plant native to the Pearland area is going to be more readily available as well as lower in cost because shipping expenses should be more reasonable.

So, first, let's look at the trees you need to replace. There are a number of different species of elms native to North America, but we found that Ulmus crassifolia (cedar elm) is native to South and East Texas. However, like all elms, you should be aware that it is susceptible to Dutch Elm disease, which has decimated elms all over North America. We'll suggest a couple of alternative choices, in case you don't want to take the chances of that particular disease with your new tree.

There are also a number of live oaks native to Texas, but one we're thinking you are likely to have in South Texas is Quercus virginiana (live oak). This is a really wonderful tree, but, again, the bad news is live oaks are susceptible to Oak Wilt, for which there is no cure. However, careful management, such as not pruning from January to June, when the nitulidid beetle, the carrier of the infection, is active makes this a viable choice for replacement.

And, finally, the fig. There is one member of the Ficus genus native to North America in our Native Plant Database, Ficus aurea (Florida strangler fig). As the name suggests, it is native only to Florida, and has a particularly unattractive way of growing, beginning as a vine, strangling the tree it has climbed up, and then emerging as a tree in its own right. We're guessing you probably had Ficus carica, (from About.com website, How to Manage and Identify Figs) native to Africa, Asia and Europe.

As promised, we are going to list some suggested replacements for your trees, native to your area, and try to avoid some that are prone to disease. We are going to select from our Recommended Species for both South and East Texas, as it's hard to draw a boundary between the two where Pearland is. If you make your choices from this list of natives, you can go to our Native Plant Suppliers site, enter your town and state, and you will get a list of native plant, nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape and environment consultants in your general area.  They will have contact information including websites and phone numbers, so you can contact them for price estimates.

Trees native to South and East Texas

Carya illinoinensis (pecan)

Ehretia anacua (knockaway)

Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)

Quercus virginiana (live oak)

Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak)

Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia)

Taxodium distichum (bald cypress)

Carya illinoinensis

Ehretia anacua

Platanus occidentalis

Quercus virginiana

Quercus macrocarpa

Magnolia grandiflora

Taxodium distichum

Ulmus crassifolia






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