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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - April 10, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs, Trees
Title: Problems with native palms in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We had a large variety of California fan palms and blue sabal palms in our yard that were damaged during the last freeze. We found that several of them now have "spear pull," which means we could pull out the core. What do you suggest as how to treat them, also, any suggestions as to a more hardy but tall palm that we can plant in Austin? Also,any way to keep a tall palm from freezing next time?

ANSWER:

Please read this previous answer on Washingtonia filifera (California fan palm, as well as following the plant link on that and the Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto). Somewhat to our surprise, both of these plants are native to North America. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and propagaton of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants are being grown.  This USDA Plant Profile map shows that the California fan palm does not grow natively in Texas at all, while this map shows that the blue sabal palm does grow in Travis County.

As we have no personal experience with palms, we went to the International Palm Society which apparently has some excellent information but requires a membership to access it. We did find information from Floridata on the Washingtonia filifera that we hope will help. Another article from Floridata on the blue sable palm also has some helpful information.

On your final question about palms that won't freeze in Austin, we suggest you do some research on "cold hardy palms"  but we think you should remember that Florida cold is not the same as Texas cold, and that palms are more a South Texas, southern California and south Florida plant.

 

From the Image Gallery


California fan palm
Washingtonia filifera

California fan palm
Washingtonia filifera

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

More Trees Questions

Washingtonia palms need to be skirted?
August 31, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have five Washingtonia palms on my property that have never been skirted and look rather shabby. The interesting thing is that they have thrived (20-30 ft) here to begin with...
view the full question and answer

Dying leaves on Autumn Blaze Maple tree in Littleton, CO
May 25, 2012 - I have an autumn blaze maple where for the last two years the left side of the tree turns light green, then brown, and leaves die. The right side is dark green, normal. Is this a water over/under pr...
view the full question and answer

Could hickory leaves be used as seasoning from Waynesboro VA
September 17, 2011 - I have a hickory tree. If I pull a leaf off and rip it then smell, there is a strong wonderful scent of hickory much like when I rip a mint leaf there is a strong smell of mint. So my question is, can...
view the full question and answer

Need a tree with a tap root for a small flower bed in Winston-Salem, NC..
May 20, 2010 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants, I am looking for a tree 6-10', somewhat spreading, could flower (not essential) to serve as a focal point in a small bed with small shrubs and perennials. I need a tree with ...
view the full question and answer

Fruit-bearing crabapple for Austin, TX
January 07, 2007 - Is there a fruitbearing crabapple that will live in Austin. If so, what soil type is required?
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center