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
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 Trees Questions

Effects of concrete patio poured around tulip poplar tree
July 01, 2008 - We have a beautiful tulip poplar tree in our back yard that we wanted to be the focal point of our patio. We had seen pictures of patios with trees incorporated in patios leaving two to three feet of...
view the full question and answer

Hiring a landscaper in New Jersey
July 28, 2008 - Soon I will be hiring a landscaper to plant a privacy line of arborvitaes with a 1' retention wall and I need some help on prices. The quote I was given, which included 48 arborvitaes (and I will ac...
view the full question and answer

Identity of tree with pumpkin-like fruit in Florida
October 02, 2012 - Hello. I live in a small town called Molino FL. I was walking on the side of our road and found a tree with pumpkin type fruit on the limbs. I have been trying to figure this tree out for about 3 mont...
view the full question and answer

Trees non-toxic for horses in California
May 02, 2011 - I would like to plant next to my pasture. Please send a good variety of nontoxic (for horses) plants for shade. I live in Redding Cal.
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screening of House Next Door in NC
June 26, 2013 - Hello, I live in the house my parents bought in 1971 in Winston-Salem, NC. The house beside me is an eyesore and for sale at a very low price. I am afraid the condition of the house and yard next door...
view the full question and answer

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