En EspaŅol

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?

Share

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
2 ratings

Saturday - May 30, 2009

From: Denver, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Trees
Title: Austrian pine in landscape in Denver CO?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm relandscaping my yard and want to use all or mostly native plants, as I want to create a wildlife. My landscape designer has indicated she wants me to use Austrian Pine in as a specimen tree in the front yard, but I'd like to substitute a native. I'm thinking Mountain Mahogany. Would that be a good substitution? I have a small yard in the front,and need an evergreen that will not get huge. If I do use the Austrian Pine, will the insects and birds be able to use it? Finally, I live in the city near a freeway, it's very urban.

ANSWER:

Pinus nigra, Austrian pine, in native to (among other countries) Austria and Switzerland, and therefore is out of our range of expertise. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we are dedicated to the care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. What was your landscaper's reason for recommending that particular tree? When we looked at the USDA Plant Profile for the Austrian pine, it was not even shown as growing in Colorado or, indeed, anywhere close to it. It grows mostly in the Northeastern United States and in Eastern and Western Canada. It is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 7, and Denver is apparently between Zone 4b (average annual minimum temperatures of -25 to -20 deg. F) to 5b (-20 to -10), so it could survive on that account. It can apparently be subject to some insect and disease damage, and we would be concerned that something against which that particular tree had no defenses would attack it. We also learned that it grows to 60 ft. and a 20 to 40 ft. spread. That doesn't sound much like a tree for a small yard, does it? Pictures of Austrian Pine.

Obviously, we would prefer you use a tree native to Colorado, and since you mentioned Mountain Mahogany, we checked on that. There are three native to Colorado, but only one, Cercocarpus montanus (alderleaf mountain mahogany), is shown on the USDA Plant Profile as growing in the Denver area. It is  8 to 12 ft. tall, low water use, sun, larval host to Mahogany Hairstreak butterfly, also cover and nesting site for birds.

Since you were interested in the genus Pinus, the Austrian pine, we looked at some members of that genus native to the Denver area:

Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine) - grows quickly to 20 ft., may reach 30 ft. at maturity, medium water use,sun. Larval host for Western Pine Elfin Butterfly. USDA Plant Profile More Pictures

Pinus edulis (twoneedle pinyon) - 10 to 30 ft., low water use, part shade,  USDA Plant Profile

Pinus flexilis (limber pine) - 30 to 60 ft., low water use, sun, part shade, USDA Plant Profile  More Pictures

If you are really interested in maintaining a native habitat, hopefully you can find a tree among these selections that will work for you.


Cercocarpus montanus

Pinus contorta

Pinus edulis

Pinus flexilis

 

 


 

 

More Trees Questions

Plants under an oak tree from Corpus Christi TX
June 30, 2012 - My project: To grow white turk's cap under an old oak tree I first planted St. Augustine sod this spring because we had many oak suckers around the tree. We mixed new soil and compost, and laid the ...
view the full question and answer

Trees that are non-toxic for horses
May 02, 2008 - I live in Ponder, Tx. We have some acreage and horses and wish to plant trees to afford some shade for the horses. Can you tell me what trees are toxic to horses.
view the full question and answer

Why are my potted Prunus caroliniana plants shedding leaves in LA, CA?
May 02, 2011 - I bought Prunus caroliniana in pots to use as privacy fence on my balcony. Have had them for about 6 weeks and they are shedding a lot of leaves. Some leave are drying out and others have what ...
view the full question and answer

Oak tree with browning leaves in Brenham TX
August 16, 2011 - I have a large oak tree in my small back yard. I also have a sprinkler so the tree has been receiving some water. Nevertheless, some of the leaves are turning brown in patches. Would drip watering ...
view the full question and answer

Fast growing native trees for firewood in New Hampshire
September 25, 2008 - Can you tell me what FAST growing tree is best for a planned crop? We plan to generate new tree crops every year. We want to use this wood for burning in indoor wood stoves and maybe in an outdoor woo...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center