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?

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
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


Catclaw acacia
Acacia greggii var. wrightii

Rocky mountain juniper
Juniperus scopulorum

Chokecherry
Prunus virginiana

Western soapberry
Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii

More Trees Questions

Grasses for horses in Austin
October 27, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants We just bought 4.5 acres in Travis County off HWY 290. We have 3 horses we keep on it but there is very little grass in the pastures. What is the best type of grass to seed ...
view the full question and answer

Viability of Texas Mountain Laurel in Florida
March 12, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants While visiting Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale we saw a beautiful Texas Mountain Laurel tree. What are the chances of this surviving in the Ft. Myers, Florida area. Either in t...
view the full question and answer

Aphids in pecan tree from Austin
July 14, 2012 - Last year at this time (midsummer) everything under the canopy of our 60+ year old pecan tree was covered with a sticky substance--plants, lawn furniture, concrete pool deck..Since we had never seen t...
view the full question and answer

Differentiating between red oak, Shumard oak and American sycamore
February 05, 2006 - I have a few trees growing in an arroyo and I'm pretty certain that they are either red oak, shumard red oak, or Texas sycamore. The trees are deciduous and have a scaled grey bark which becomes lig...
view the full question and answer

Crape myrtle in Austin
August 01, 2012 - Please don't bother to answer my question about how to treat a crepe myrtle with sticky stuff falling from it. I just found the answer on your site. Good site, by the way.
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center