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?

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - May 20, 2010

From: Tucson, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Transplants, Trees
Title: Will Texas Mountain Laurel roots damage pipes in Tucson AZ?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a Texas Laurel tree in our back yard,and it is doing fine, and we are are planning to put another one in the front yard close to the house will the root system attack our pipes ? no septic system.

ANSWER:

Do you mean a Texas Mountain Laurel, Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel)? We will assume that is the tree you are considering. We were concerned when we discovered that it is not listed as native to Arizona in our Native Plant Database; however, we then found this article by Master Gardeners on a Pima County Cooperative Extension website, Texas Mountain Laurel. You say you already have one in your yard, so obviously they must be able to live in Arizona.

When you inquire about the roots of this tree attacking your pipes, are you referring to sewer pipes or water lines? The Mountain Laurel has a sparse root system but a deep taproot, an adaptation for survival in desert conditions. Once upon a time, when most sewer lines were clay, like the clay pots,  invasive roots did, indeed, break them up and cause major problems. Nowadays, both water and sewer pipes are more often a heavy-duty plastic material, and don't have as much trouble with roots. The mountain laurel is very difficult to successfully transplant because of that taproot-damaging it in transplanting can be fatal to the tree. We would suggest that you first acquaint yourself with the location of the pipes you are concerned about, including the depth they are in the ground.  You did not say if you intended to plant seeds or purchase a tree for transplanting, but it would be a good insurance policy to not dig the hole for the tree directly over those pipes. The resources we searched made no mention of intrusive roots from this tree, just cautioned about the difficult of transplanting the tap root, as well as warning that the tree grows very, very slowly.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

 

 

 

 

More Transplants Questions

Keeping a Texas Madrone alive from Belton TX
October 01, 2012 - I have found a supplier of a Texas Madrone and have been wanting to grow one ever since our family vacation to Big Bend NP. My question is how do you have success with this tree? Many people say it is...
view the full question and answer

Post-bloom period care for Pink evening primrose
June 28, 2011 - Hello, I live in Denton, TX. I introduced pink evening primrose as a ground cover to a xeriscaped section of my property a few years ago. I have pretty much left it alone and let it do its thing an...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting and grafting pecan in Granbury TX
May 18, 2010 - I found several native pecans on my property this spring. Apparently they grew from nuts buried by squirrels. I put small protective fences around them and plan to dig and move them (bare root) next...
view the full question and answer

Possumhaw losing leaves in Liberty Hill, TX.
July 11, 2011 - I have two female possumhaw trees and one of them is losing its leaves. I planted both of them in February and they were doing very well, getting green and full. What's happening?
view the full question and answer

Living fence of native plants for Ojai, CA
September 20, 2008 - I would like to build a "green fence" about 10-15 feet tall. I live in Ojai, CA where we have VERY hot summers and it goes below freezing every winter. The soil does not seem to drain well..it is e...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center