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Wednesday - May 20, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Native Texas tree for anniversary in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


My husband and I would like to plant a tree in our yard commemorating our 5 year anniversary (wood anniversary). What native Texas tree can we plant in June? I love Red buds and any pretty blooming trees; my husband wants a hardy, fast-growing shade tree. Do you have any suggestions?


What a truly lovely idea! And Mr. Smarty Plants learns something every single day; we had no idea that the 5th wedding anniversary was wood. The only caution we would make, before we suggest some trees, is that you defer planting whatever tree you choose until December. Give each other a wooden reminder note or something of the sort. Your tree will have a much better chance of surviving and thriving if it is planted during the semi-dormancy of cool weather. The heat and dry weather in Austin in June can be daunting to anyone, and a fresh young tree with its little hair roots possibly damaged in transplanting needs every break it can get.

You say you want a pretty flowering tree, and your husband wants a fast-growing shade tree. We don't ordinarily recommend fast-growing trees, as they tend to break down readily, be easily damaged and short-lived. But there are some that grow fairly fast that would do. And we have just about stopped recommending oaks in the Austin area, because of the Oak Wilt problems here. Red oaks and live oaks are particularly susceptible to the disease, but there is one other oak that is moderately fast growing (for an oak) and pretty resistant to Oak Wilt. Because any tree will help to cool the area around your house, provide some shade, and add to the appearance of the yard, we will find several that we think would fit your specifications. To do this, we will go to the Recommended Species of our Native Plant Database, select on Central Texas and "trees" under Habit. If you would like to see more possibilities, you can repeat this procedure. Follow each plant link to the webpage on that individual plant to read about its expected size and appearance. To find out still more, go to the bottom of that webpage to the Google link to the Latin name of the tree. And Happy Anniversary!

Bauhinia lunarioides (Texasplume) - 6 to 12 ft. tall, rapid growing, deciduous, blooms white, pink March to May. low water use, part shade

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud) - 10 to 20 ft., deciduous, blooms pink, purple March and April, medium water use, sun or part shade

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) - 15 to 30 ft. tall, deciduous, blooms white, pink, purple April to September, low water use, sun

Cotinus obovatus (American smoketree) - 15 to 30 ft. tall, deciduous, blooms pink, yellow April and May, low water use, sun or part shade

Fraxinus texensis (Texas ash) - 30 to 45 ft. tall, deciduous, water use low, part shade

Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum) - 15 to 35 ft. tall, deciduous, blooms white, pink February to April, low water use, sun or part shade

Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak) - to 100 ft. height and width, deciduous, medium water use, sun, part shade, shade

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) - evergreen, to 30 ft. tall, blooms blue, purple February and March, medium water use, sun or part shade

Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) - 50 to 75 ft. tall, deciduous, medium water use, sun or part shade

Bauhinia lunarioides

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Chilopsis linearis

Cotinus obovatus

Fraxinus texensis

Prunus mexicana

Quercus macrocarpa

Sophora secundiflora

Taxodium distichum






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