Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Sunday - December 06, 2009

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Will the sea water from Hurricane Ike residually affect Galveston's soil
Answered by: Chris Caran and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Most of the trees on Galveston Island died following Hurricane Ike, apparently as a result of the sea water that covered the island. Will the sea water that soaked the soil have a residual effect on transplanted replacement trees?

ANSWER:

Under normal circumstances, Galveston Island's sandy porous soil functions as an aquifer containing a zone of freshwater.  This "lens" of fresh water derives from rainwater that infiltrates through the soil and overlies a deeper zone of seawater that infiltrates laterally from the ocean and bay.  Some of the saltwater that covered the island during Hurricane Ike no doubt also filtered downward and is now above the freshwater lens.  Saltwater is denser than freshwater and so will move downward and mix with the freshwater.  The saltwater will eventually become thoroughly diluted.  In addition, the layer of mixed water will also be diluted by rainwater seeping downward through the soil.  How long that will take will depend on the amount of salt water from the hurricane and how much rainwater infiltrated.  Additionally, some of the island is built on clay deposits that are far less porous, and mixing in these areas may take longer. So, eventually Galveston Island's soil will have no trouble supporting the transplanted replacement trees—hopefully, sooner than later.  Of course, many of the plants on Galveston Island are salt tolerant.  This is quite evident since Galveston has been hit many times over the centuries by hurricanes bringing elevated salt concentrations but the island still has abundant plant life.

 

More Trees Questions

Native range of Osage orange tree
July 02, 2012 - I found a "bois d'arc" or Osage Orange Tree in a San Antonio park. Is this very unusual? I thought they were mainly in East Tx as I had never seen one here before.
view the full question and answer

Source for Texas Olive Tree from Tucson AZ
August 10, 2013 - Can one start a Texas Olive Tree from the olives it produces? How can you start one. I am having difficulty finding a nursery, but do see the trees around.
view the full question and answer

Thuja arborvitae not thriving in Austin
November 04, 2010 - I planted 5 giant thuja arborvitae two years ago. They have grown six inches and aren't doing that well. I live in Austin Texas and it was a hot summer. I water them 2x a week, now 1x a week. They a...
view the full question and answer

Magnolia species are allelopathic
August 02, 2014 - Have a healthy Southern Magnolia tree around 8 years old. It seems like everything I plant next to it dies.: Variegated Spirea, Stokes Aster, Hydrangeas. Is there something it secretes like the waln...
view the full question and answer

Ensuring survival of wax myrtle in Wilmington, NC
July 29, 2009 - I just transplanted some wax myrtle bushes. What do I need to do to insure they live?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.