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Mr. Smarty Plants - Trees suited for rocky, caliche soil of Central Texas

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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

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