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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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Sunday - January 03, 2010

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Fruit trees for Bellville, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Which fruit trees will withstand heat and drought in the Bellville, Texas area?

ANSWER:

Because at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we are limited to plants native to North America, and recommend that they also be native to the area where they are being grown, there are not many fruit trees that would be appropriate to your area.

For instance, Malus domestica, the apple, is native to Central Asia.  Prunus persica, peach, is native to China. Nectarines are a sport of the peach. Citrus sinensis, sweet orange, is native to Southeast Asia. There are 32 members of the genus Prunus, which includes plums, cherries and peaches, that are in our Native Plant Database. Of those, 17 are native to Texas, some are consumable by humans, most are attractive to wildlife. 

From our Native Plant Database: "Warning: The seeds of all Prunus species, found inside the fruits, contain poisonous substances and should never be eaten. POISONOUS PARTS: Wilted leaves, twigs (stems), seeds. Highly Toxic. May be fatal if ingested." Leaves and fruit fallen on the ground and eaten by pets or livestock can be deadly to them, and the material may be allelopathic to garden plants, preventing their development. Only a very few of this genus can be considered landscaping plants, and the edible fruits will be harvested by the birds if they can beat you to them. Most of the Prunus species in Texas tend to develop into low thickets.

Members of the genus Prunus growing natively around Austin County, Texas:

Prunus angustifolia (Chickasaw plum) - valuable to wildlife, ripe fruit can be eaten fresh and made into jellies, desserts

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) - attractive to wildlife

Prunus gracilis (Oklahoma plum) - attractive to wildlife

Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum) - single-trunked, non-suckering, showy, fragrant white flowers

Prunus serotina (black cherry) - wild black cherry fruits can be eaten raw or used in jelly, syrup, wine, juice and pies

Prunus serotina var. serotina (black cherry) - pictures from Google

Prunus umbellata (hog plum) - ornamental, accent tree or shrub

Prunus virginiana (chokecherry) - blue-black edible cherries, make good jelly, important to wildlife

If you are more interested in producing a food crop type tree, consult theTexas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Office for Austin County. They usually have lists of suitable food crop trees for their area, not necessarily native.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Prunus angustifolia

Prunus caroliniana

Prunus gracilis

Prunus mexicana

Prunus serotina

Prunus umbellata

Prunus virginiana

 

 

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