En EspaŅol

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

Friday - July 23, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Native tree or shrub with fruit to espalier on fence
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in the Austin, TX area and I would like to choose a native tree or shrub to espalier on a fence in my garden. Ideally, I would like to use a tree that bears fruit. Any suggestions?


The University of Florida IFAS Extension has a very good article, Espaliers, that describes how to create and care for them that you might like to read  They also have tables of recommended species, but you should be aware that some of the species they recommend are not native and some are even considered invasive in Texas (e.g., Ligustrum japonicum).  Please don't plant invasives!  Here are a few recommendations for native trees from their list as well as some additional ones:

Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum) and Prunus rivularis (creek plum) both produce edible plums.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) is evergreen and the female plants have red berries that the birds like to eat.

Ilex decidua (possumhaw) is deciduous and female plants produce red berries for the birds.

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud) has beautiful blooms for a couple of weeks in February and March.

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) is evergreen.

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) is evergreen and has attractive flowers in the spring.

Viburnum rufidulum (rusty blackhaw) has showy spring flowers, dark blue berries and beautiful fall colors.

Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon) has edible fruits on the female trees.

Morus microphylla (Texas mulberry) produces edible fruits.

Vitis mustangensis (mustang grape) is a vine, of course, but it produces woody branches that would do well as an espalier and it does produce edible grapes that make delicious jelly.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:

Prunus mexicana

Prunus rivularis

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex decidua

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Juniperus virginiana

Rhus virens

Viburnum rufidulum

Diospyros texana

Morus microphylla

Vitis mustangensis






More Shrubs Questions

Cutting back a Rhododendron in Maryland
June 17, 2015 - I have a planting of six shrubs across the front of my house (alternating azalea & rhododendron). All have died except for one huge rhody & a small azalea next to it. Can I cut the huge rhody back to ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep slope in California
February 21, 2010 - I have steep slope, southwestern facing, minimal shade in Southern California. The soil is rocky. Because of fire danger, I would rather not plant grasses. Do you have a suggestion?
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screen for Reading MA
June 27, 2012 - Best tree to grow for a privacy screen - Hello, we recently moved into a new house in Reading and have an open area on the side of our house where we can make a privacy screen from our neighbors. Wha...
view the full question and answer

What is hollowing out my rosebuds in Austin, TX?
April 28, 2012 - I recently noticed some of my rose buds had been hollowed out from the inside. I have seen no evidence of insect though. What do you think it is and how can I treat the problem?
view the full question and answer

California plants poisonous to dogs from Sacramento
July 01, 2012 - Found dodonea viscosa purple. Is it poisonous to dogs? Also Gold Star Potentilla. Going drought tolerant and need small trees, shrubs and plants not poisonous to dogs for sun and partial sun.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center