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

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


Wright acacia
Senegalia wrightii

Rocky mountain juniper
Juniperus scopulorum

Chokecherry
Prunus virginiana

Western soapberry
Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii

More Trees Questions

Causes of death to Papershell pinion pine (Pinus remota)?
December 03, 2015 - Good afternoon. I did my best to review the site and have not found a comparable question - apologies if I have missed something. I own property equidistant between Leakey and Campwood off of HWY 33...
view the full question and answer

Should I purchase wax myrtle plants as liners or pots
July 18, 2011 - I want to buy some wax myrtle over internet.Place has wax myrtle "liners" They look very thin. Will these bushes grow quickly or should I spend more $ for 1 gallon plants. Just need a hedge fairly q...
view the full question and answer

Tree near a patio in Tennessee
January 02, 2009 - What type of tree would you plant near a patio (new home and yard) that gets afternoon sun? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Ebenopsis
July 01, 2005 - Why is the Texas Ebony, genus Pithecolobium, not in your database? Is it not a native? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Replacement trees for southwest facing backyard in Austin, TX.
September 23, 2010 - The back of the house we are purchasing faces southwest and is completely devoid of large shade trees. I have been told that the previously existing trees were destroyed by oak wilt. I am in love wi...
view the full question and answer

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