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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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Saturday - May 21, 2005

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Native maples for the Austin, TX area
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am new to the state of Texas. I lived in Canada all of my life and miss my maple trees. Are maple trees (green or red leafed varieties) able to thrive in Austin?

ANSWER:

There are 5 members of the Family Aceraceae (maple family) that are native to Texas, but the only one that is native to Austin and Travis County is Box Elder or Ash-leaved Maple (Acer negundo). It doesn't look much like the other maples in overall shape or its leaf shape, nor does it have spectacular fall foliage; but the sap has sometimes been harvested for sugar. Chalk Maple (Acer leucoderme), Red Maple (Acer rubrum), and Southern Sugar Maple (Acer barbatum) all occur in the sandy Piney Woods of East Texas, and are not likely to thrive in the limestone soils of Central Texas. However, the Big-toothed Maple (Acer grandidentatum) grows on limestone soils northwest of Austin in Coryell County on the Ft. Hood military reservation and south of Austin in Bandera County in Lost Maples State Natural Area. The Big-toothed maple is listed in "Native and Adapted Landscape Plants: an Earth-wise Guide for Central Texas" published by the City of Austin and Texas Cooperative Extension. You can pick up a copy of this publication at many local nurseries. You can find nurseries and seed companies that specialize in native plants by visiting the National Suppliers Directory.
 

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