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

Friday - April 01, 2011

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of tree along Austin highways
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am trying to identify a large tree seen along many Austin Highways. The best ID can find is Western Soapberry, but the articles all specify white blooms. The trees I see have purple clusters of blooms. They do have the pods seen on Soapberry. Is this a soapberry variety?

ANSWER:

The tree you are describing sounds like Melia azedarach (chinaberry tree). You are correct that its leaves and fruits resemble those of Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii (Western soapberry), but it is an invasive, non-native introduced to the US from Asia.  Here are more photos and more information.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery of Western soapberry:


Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii


Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii


Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Identifying a plant/weed blooming in Feb. in Texas
February 24, 2010 - Can you help me identify a flowering plant I have found growing in my yard? It is a tiny green plant most months of the year, with very tiny deep to pastel blue flowers on it in early spring ( it is i...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
November 08, 2012 - I have visited this page and 18 more! I am still trying to find a plant that I found on a creek that runs through our land. I have pics. Great ones! Can I send the pic? If you like it, use it. I ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of seedlings
December 20, 2014 - So..last spring I spread out a bag of random Texas wildflower seed I bought at Home Depot. Bautiful things happened. Since that time I've collected seeds while out camping etc and just been chunking ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification in Florida
April 03, 2012 - Hello, I have a plant that I bought at a local nursery (now closed). It only came with a label that read "Sun". The plant has many long willowy stems coming up from the ground, green saw-notched lea...
view the full question and answer

Is this a sycamore tree in Houston TX?
July 13, 2009 - I believe I have a 6 year old American Sycamore planted in front of my condo. There are no seed pods (balls) ever on this tree. I thought all Sycamores have those. Is my tree too young to produce the ...
view the full question and answer

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