Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

Thursday - April 05, 2012

From: Lubbock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Purple ash trees for Lubbock TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Do purple ash trees grow well in Lubbock Texas? I want a faster growing tree. Heard all the oaks are slower. Any opinions would be appreciated.

ANSWER:

Purple ash does not appear in our Native Plant Database. This article from eHow Autumn Purple Ash Tree Facts will give you several facts about this culivar of Fraxinus americana (White ash). A cultivar usually means the "parent tree" has been selected for traits that suit the purpose of the company producing it. The Purple Ash has male trees only, which means it is seedless, which is a good thing in this case, because ash seedlings can be a real pain. Otherwise, I think we can judge the cultivar by the traits of the White Ash.

These traits include the fact that the tree is very fast-growing, which we understand you would like to have.  A fast-growing plant is usually also a short-lived plant. The genus Fraxinus (ash) tends to be very susceptible to pests and diseases. From Ohio State University here is an article on Common Problems of Ash Trees. Probably the worst of these is the Emerald Ash Borer; the map this link is for shows that the Emerald Ash Borer is not yet in Texas, but we understand seed conservancies are already gathering ash seeds for seed banks in Texas to re-populate the tree if the ash borer decimates our ash trees.

Now we have discussed ash trees in general, here is our suggestion regarding the cultivar of Fraxinus americana (White ash) growing in Lubbock. According to this USDA Plant Profile map the tree occurs naturally only in a few counties in East Texas. If you follow that plant link to our webpage on the tree, you will learn that it needs sunshine, acidic soil, and does better in moist conditions. Having gone to school in Lubbock from 1952 to 1955, we are pretty sure you do not have moist conditions. From knowledge of the soils in Texas we can tell you that you probably don't have acidic, but alkaline soils.

We realize that this has been a pretty negative response, and we're sorry. Our job is to discourage gardeners from buying plants and using a great many resources like water, fertilizer, money and back muscles when there is a good chance the plant will not thrive or perhaps even survive. A plant that is native to a specific area has already made adjustments to the climate and developed defenses against insects and disease over centuries of experience.

Just to give you something to think about, here are 4 trees that are native to the Texas Panhandle area, either in or near Lubbock County. Follow each plant link to see the projected height of each tree, what kind of conditions they favor, etc.

Acacia greggii var. wrightii (Catclaw acacia)

Juniperus scopulorum (Rocky mountain juniper)

Prunus virginiana (Chokecherry)

Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii (Western soapberry)

There is, of course, no reason why you cannot plant the Purple Ash; it won't be invasive or messy with seeds, it would probably live as long as you wanted it and with appropriate watering and the addition of compost to the hole for it should do all right. Just remember, we recommend planting trees only in the Winter, December to February, when the trees are dormant and less susceptible to transplant shock.

 

From the Image Gallery


Rocky mountain juniper
Juniperus scopulorum

More Trees Questions

Pruning Saucer Magnolia in Eatontown, NJ.
January 12, 2013 - Adult Saucer Magnolia (tulip tree). Branches were getting heavy to where they were ready to break. I pruned them back leaving 1 to 3 inch diameter cuts on many branches. Should I put something on th...
view the full question and answer

How common is white blooming Mountain Laurel
April 01, 2003 - Is white blooming Mountain Laurel common?
view the full question and answer

Alder native to Central Indiana
May 30, 2006 - I am trying to find out whether there exists a plant named Alnus rugosa. I bought a plant recently that said Speckled Alder, Alnus serrulata (rugosa), but have been unable to determine if this is a c...
view the full question and answer

Oak trees losing leaves in Longview, Texas
August 18, 2009 - One of my oak trees is losing its leaves (it is the first week in August). They are turning brown and falling at an alarming rate. The ground under this tree is covered, but my other trees seem unaffe...
view the full question and answer

Treating suspected drought-stressed live oak
July 13, 2011 - I have a live oak with excessive leaf drop - it was planted approx. 20 year ago surrounded by heavy pavers. very little grass - I did not plant the tree - I have noticed in the last few years the dro...
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.