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

Friday - June 29, 2012

From: Chappell Hill, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Trees
Title: a source for fruitless olive (non-native) trees
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I was given a "mexican olive" several years ago which is doing very well. This one is non-fruiting and I would like to have another that is non-fruiting but cannot find one. Cordia boissieri seems to be the only plant name but all those I find have fruit. Is there a variety that does not fruit?

ANSWER:

I  have not been able to find a source for fruitless olives in your vicinity.  What you have may indeed be Cordia boissieri, but it could also be a totally different olive species, such as Swan Hill Olive ®, grown on the Olea europaea cv, "Oblonga" rootstock.  This latter tree is the most popular of several related fruitless olive species.  Other cultivars are Wilsonii and Majestic Beauty.  Texas nurserymen are very enterprising, and I suspect that if these fruitless olives were well suited for Texas they would be more widely available.  Their absence is likely due to their cold sensitivity.  C. boissieri is said to survive only down to 20 degrees F., and O. europaea will be lost at 28-26 degrees F.  Your tree must be in a well protected spot, or you have just been lucky with the weather.

I am not very familiar with these non-native trees since our specialty is native plants.  You can find more information at nursery sites in Arizona and California.  You can probably mail-order trees from there.  However, I think it would be risky to try and grow these species.  Over the next few years we are likely to have at least one really cold spell that could take them out.

You might want to consider planting a cold-hardy native tree that has a growth habit similar to the olives.  I could suggest Ebenopsis ebano (Texas ebony), Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon), Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel), or Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon).  If you visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center web site of plant suppliers and enter your zip code or address you will find names of local native plant suppliers.

Shown below are images of the native trees that I recommend.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas ebony
Ebenopsis ebano

Texas persimmon
Diospyros texana

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

More Trees Questions

Sap dripping from a lacey oaks in San Antonio
September 06, 2012 - I have a lacey oak tree, approximately 6 ft. tall that has been in the ground almost a year. The tree looks healthy but there is a small area on the trunk that looks and feels wet. The substance is s...
view the full question and answer

Identification of a tree at David Crockett Cabin Museum in Tennessee
October 22, 2012 - I was in Lawrenceburg TN and stopped by the David Crockett Cabin Museum. There was a tree and it dropped lemon sized balls on the ground. What kind of tree is it?
view the full question and answer

Pecan tree transplant in Elgin, TX
August 26, 2008 - Hello, Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about how to encourage a very young pecan sapling to grow, and whether I should use mulch to do so. I live in Elgin (Bastrop County) and the soil is extr...
view the full question and answer

Lemon cypress Goldcrest in Richland MI
September 15, 2009 - Can the shrub lemon cypress survive a southern Michigan winter? If so, how does one care for it?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a school garden in College Station TX
July 20, 2011 - I need to plant some things in my school garden. Green plants and plants with some color. Hardly ever rains here. Please give suggestions.
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center