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

Evergreen vine for wall and long-blooming shrubs in San Antonio TX
May 04, 2014 - What is a good native vine that stays green all year to plant along a rock courtyard wall? Also what are native bushes that flower for the longest period of time? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Spots on calycanthus petals from Buckley WA
June 20, 2013 - Petals on calycanthus develop black spots the turn into holes. Problem appears shortly after buds open. Occurs every year. Foliage is healthy. Plant growing well and doubles or triples size every ...
view the full question and answer

Junipers for restoring area in Bulverde TX
November 03, 2012 - Are ashe or virginiana junipers for sale around the hill country? I would like to recreate the natural plant life that was bulldozed next to my home. Do you recommend any other types of juniper that ...
view the full question and answer

Further question on sprouts from holly tree in Surprise AZ
November 16, 2010 - Thank you Barbara Medford for your response to my question about the sprouting holly tree in Surprise AZ. I took for granted that the tree I was talking about was a holly tree. I looked at pictures of...
view the full question and answer

Retention pond from Hendersonville NC
April 24, 2012 - We have a retention pond that has recently been cleaned and we would like to plant perennial native plant and grass seeds that will enhance the appearance and contribute to the natural process of filt...
view the full question and answer

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