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
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


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.


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 Trees Questions

Note on pond over oak roots from Round Rock TX
December 23, 2012 - Thanks very much to Barbara for answering my question about the live oaks - covering parts of their root systems with a pond. Your answer inspired discussion, and we changed our pond plan and moved th...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen for barn from Washington TX
April 27, 2013 - We live on a large ranch and have someone now next to us that built a barn on our fence line that we want to make a tree barrier to hide it, so we need to plant trees that will grow at least 15-29 fee...
view the full question and answer

Oak trees shedding leaves in Denton TX
May 27, 2012 - In Denton, TX we have two mature Quercus buckleyi. It is May 11th 2012 and one of these trees has been shedding green leaves for the last week. The only changes we have made are: planted English ivy...
view the full question and answer

Do non-native globe willows have a taproot from Midland TX
April 06, 2012 - Do globe willows have a tap root?
view the full question and answer

Replacement for trees destroyed by Hurricane Ike
March 28, 2009 - We had a 23 year old elm tree in our front yard that was uprooted from Hurricane Ike (about 50 feet tall)..can you tell us what the replacement costs for that would be? Also we had a 20 foot live oak ...
view the full question and answer

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