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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - August 16, 2006

From: Providence Village, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Survivability of birch trees in Texas
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Is it known whether Gray birch (Betula populifolia Marsh) will grow in North Texas? It seems like the only birch variety which might - and how short is a "short lifespan" for a tree?

ANSWER:

You will find references that state that Gray birch might perform in northern Texas, particularly in the panhandle region of the state. However, it is usually better to find native alternatives that are adapted to your area. Even if you can find Gray birch locally, its chances of success in North Texas' demanding summer conditions are iffy at best.

River birch, Betula nigra is the only birch known to be native to Texas where it is common along rivers and streams in the eastern part of the state. If you have an area with good soil moisture, this species might work for you.

The term "short-lived", when applied to a tree usually means the tree can be expected to die or develop problems serious enough to necessitate its removal within 20 to 50 years.
 

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