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?

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
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
1 rating

Saturday - November 20, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Information about non-native tung tree
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a tree growing in my yard in North Austin which I can't identify. I have been told it is a 'tong' or 'tung' tree but can't find it in any reference books. It is deciduous, about 30 feet tall and 9" in diameter at eye level. The bark is fairly smooth, pale gray. The leaves are alternate and broadly three lobed with pointed tips but wavy edges. They turn brown on the edges and then yellow in the center in fall. I have seen many smaller specimens beside the road in the western hill country. What is it?

ANSWER:

There is a tree, Aleurites fordii (Tung-oil tree), that is, perhaps, the tree in your backyard.  It is native to China.  Here are information and photos from the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, University of Florida. Another Asian tree that is a close relative, Aleurites moluccana (varnish tree), is also called by the trade name 'tung'.  Since neither of these are native to North America (our focus and expertise here at the Wildflower Center is with North American native plants), we can't be much more help than to point you to those two possibilities.  If neither of the suggested species above is the plant you have, I recommend that you visit our Plant Identification page to find internet garden forums where you can submit photos for identification.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Water for non-native Sub-Zero ivy in El Paso
March 25, 2011 - Sub-Zero Ivy: Do they require lots of water - I live El Paso, TX - dry climate. Are they dangerous to dogs? Will they do well as ground cover around a brick patio? - Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Control of non-native invasive Japanese Barberry from Enfield NH
April 22, 2014 - I recently bought a home that is bordered by woods and a sizable area of invasive Japanese Barberry growing on a steep hill in and around a stone wall making it that much harder to dig up. I've alway...
view the full question and answer

Protecting plants from birds near bird feeder
April 24, 2009 - I am happy to have several cardinal pairs living in my yard, but I need to discourage them from eating & destroying my purple heart planted under the huge cedar that holds my bird feeders. The cardina...
view the full question and answer

Growing kudzu in Las Vegas NV
April 18, 2013 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about a known invasive species that I know you advise against, but I feel my situation may be different enough that it's worth asking about. Yes, I'm talk...
view the full question and answer

Controlling Rapistrum rugosum (annual bastardcabbage)
March 09, 2012 - The invasive, Rapistrum rugosum, seems to be especially ubiquitous this year. I communicated with Dr. Mark Simmons a few years ago regarding his research, which indicated that over-sowing wit...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center