En EspaÑol

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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - January 13, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Cold tolerance of Anacacho Orchid Tree (Bauhinia lunarioides)
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus


I live in Austin, and I'm considering planting an Anacacho Orchid Tree. How cold tolerant is it? Would the tree have been damaged in the recent 18 degree temperatures we experienced?


According to the University of Texas at El Paso Chihuahuan Desert Plants database, Bauhinia lunarioides (Anacacho orchid tree) is hardy down to 15 degrees F.  The temperature on Jan. 9, 2010 at Bergstrom International Airport in Austin was 9 degrees F. and at Camp Mabry it was 17 degrees.  These were both record lows for the day and, in general, it is very unusual for the temperature to reach so low in Austin.  It remains to be seen if the local Anacacho orchid trees were hurt.  There are two in the general area of Camp Mabry that we've observed—one is about 5 feet tall and it's leaves have all turned brown (the leaves of the Anacacho orchid tree are somewhat persistent, although the tree is deciduous).  The other tree that is probably 7 or 8 feet tall still had some leaves that appeared undamaged although many of its leaves had also turned brown.  The ones at the Wildflower Center had freeze damage to their leaves, but otherwise the trees appear to be fine.

So, the jury is still out.  Our sense of it is that we will probably see some damage to the trees depending on local conditions, but most will survive just fine. Check back with us in April and we can give you an assessment of how these particular trees mentioned above are doing.


More Trees Questions

Black Walnut tree in LA
March 12, 2012 - I was just given a black walnut tree and am trying to determine where to place it. I’ve read on your site that “Certain plants will not grow under Black Walnut trees because of the juglones that the ...
view the full question and answer

Care of Styphnolobium affine, Eves necklace
October 05, 2007 - I have an 18 yr old Eve's Necklace tree that is dying from the "bottom up". It has only a few leaves at the very top of the tree. I have, connected to the gutter, a rain barrel from which the exc...
view the full question and answer

Mixed native plantings for steep slope in Austin
April 18, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: We wrote to you recently about plantings for a fairly steep slope in a park in Austin. We had asked about grasses and perennials. An article about planting on slopes in this mo...
view the full question and answer

Black coloration on Star Magnolia is probably sooty mold.
November 21, 2008 - I have a star magnolia where 90% of the bark has turned black. It almost looks burned. The tree has decent buds set for next spring. What is causing the bark to turn black?
view the full question and answer

Shade Tree for Sunny California Yard
April 03, 2015 - I am getting ready to sell my home in Van Nuys, California. My home had a beautiful fruitless mulberry that had to be removed. My front door faces west. The house is now very hot. I would like to know...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center