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

Tuesday - September 20, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Trees
Title: Trees suited for rocky, caliche soil of Central Texas
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I need to replace aging ashes. I have planted 2 Monterey oaks, but I would like to know what else I could plant whose roots will grow well in NW Austin caliche, rocky soil? Thank you.

ANSWER:

There is a wide variety of native trees suitable for your soil.  Let me begin with large trees, mostly oaks.  The most commonly found oaks in your area are Quercus fusiformis (Escarpment live oak) and Quercus buckleyi (Texas red oak).  The former is evergreen and the latter deciduous.  Both grow into large, handsome trees, but they are susceptible to attack by oak wilt.  Oak species that are resistant to oak wilt include Quercus stellata (Post oak), Quercus macrocarpa (Bur oak), and Quercus muehlenbergii (Chinkapin oak). Quercus laceyi (Lacey oak) grows into a medium sized tree in your area.  Ulmus crassifolia (Cedar elm) is also popular in the Austin area and develops yellow-orange leaves in autumn.

Smaller trees worth considering include Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud), Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel), Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum), and Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow).  Except for Desert willow, which needs full sun, the others are generally understory trees that thrive in partial shade but can take full sun.

Check out the characteristics of the recommended trees by clicking on the underlined names.  Note that some grow more slowly than others, if this is a consideration. Attached below are sample images of the trees I mentioned.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Texas red oak
Quercus buckleyi

Post oak
Quercus stellata

Bur oak
Quercus macrocarpa

Chinkapin oak
Quercus muehlenbergii

Lacey oak
Quercus laceyi

Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

More Plant Lists Questions

Plants to stabilize sandy slope in Massachusetts
September 23, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smartypants, I am working on a small public housing project in Chelmsford, MA, northwest of Boston. We have a steep, sunny and SANDY slope and I am stumped as to what to recommend that wi...
view the full question and answer

Winter plant for area with poor drainage.
December 07, 2007 - I have a 2 ft by 15 ft bed between the concrete patio and the pool that gets run off from the porch roof. I can't gutter the roof, so the bed can get very wet and stay that way for some time. It face...
view the full question and answer

Vines for a Chicago Pergola in Zone 5
November 28, 2015 - I'm looking for some recommendations of vines for my south-facing pergola. I live in a northwest suburb of Chicago, in Zone 5 with heavy clay soil.
view the full question and answer

Smoky Mountains Shaded Slope Plant Suggestions
April 29, 2013 - We live in a very shady spot in Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina. We would like to plant vegetation on a sloped area behind our cottage to stop erosion after building an addition. Our h...
view the full question and answer

Non-poisonous, non-allergenic plants for privacy fence
March 15, 2012 - I'm looking to put in some plants to create a privacy fence against one side of my property. I'd like a mix of plants that grow well together in order to create a diverse look. I need something ever...
view the full question and answer

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