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
2 ratings

Wednesday - June 07, 2006

From: Leander, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Native Texas Hill Country nitrogen-fixing plants
Answered by: Dean Garrett


Please help me find a listing of native (TX Hill Country) nitrogen-fixing plants.


A centralized listing of nitrogen-fixing plants native to the Texas Hill Country does not appear to exist at this point, but there is a relatively simple way to construct one. Since almost all members of the legume family, Fabaceae, are known to fix nitrogen, finding a list of native Central Texas plants in that family would cover most nitrogen-fixing plants in your region. Since you're in Williamson County, this flora of neighboring Travis County would be a good start. Simply go down to the Fabaceae section to get to the leguminous plants. There are many, including some commonly used in landscaping, such as Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora), redbud (Cercis canadensis), Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), and bluebonnets (Lupinus spp.).

Consulting books that cover a broader region, such as Shinners and Mahler's Flora of North Central Texas (which includes most of Williamson County) and the Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas (which lists leguminous plants under the older name, Leguminosae), paying attention to which species occur in the Hill Country, can help produce a more complete list. Both books are commonly available in Texas libraries.

In addition to the legumes, there are several other plant genera that fix nitrogen. Central Texas examples of these include Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus), native to the western edge of the Hill Country, and Redroot (Ceanothus herbaceous).


More Shrubs Questions

Covering dead arborvitae with non-native ivy from Niles MI
April 14, 2013 - I have a severely thinning arborvitae hedge. It is probably too shady, but I want the privacy. I'm thinking of planting something like ivy to fill the gaps. I know it will probably kill the hedge, bu...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping plant for Austin
September 01, 2011 - Great site! Have gotten lots of ideas. We're about to start construction on a fairly major landscaping project: raised beds/privacy screen. We're at the top of a hill in the Hill Country just wes...
view the full question and answer

Planting Suggestions for a Lake Home in Wayne County, MO
April 03, 2014 - We have a lake home in Wayne County, MO at Lake Wappapello. The soil is very rocky. We recently cleared an area around our home of assorted dead trees, some cedars and what seemed like tons of vines. ...
view the full question and answer

Curb appeal for sale of house
December 16, 2007 - Help! We're selling our house soon and need to redo our flowerbeds in the front of the house (facing north, gets partial sunlight throughout the day) in the coming weeks but don't have a clue where...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for Brooklyn, NY
January 25, 2013 - Hi Mr Smarty Plants, I'm looking for a fast growing ground cover for my Brooklyn, NY back yard. The area is nestled between 3 buildings and a fairly large tree, so most of the day its shady, but ...
view the full question and answer

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