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

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 Non-Natives Questions

Non-native crape myrtle resistance to deer from Annapolis MD
April 06, 2013 - Is Crape Myrtle tree resistant to deers? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

When to Move Potted Plants Outside in Texas?
July 07, 2016 - When can I move my potted patio plants back outside? I live in Heath/ Rockwall, Texas. I have Horses tail, Croutens, and Money tree.
view the full question and answer

Problem With Vegetable Garden Soil
June 09, 2013 - We live in Liberty Hill on 25 acres and we are working to restore native grasses and plants. We are ardent supporters of the Wildflower center. I say this because my question is not "typical" of wh...
view the full question and answer

Corkscrew willow damage to roof in Detroit, MI.
August 13, 2009 - I have a corkscrew willow (Detroit, MI) that is huge and whose branches hang on top of the asphalt shingles of my mobile home. It has now been discovered that these shingles, under the branches, are ...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID of invasive vine from Austin
August 21, 2013 - A friend lives in southwest Austin and has a vine that's coming up all over her yard. I am a Williamson County Master Gardener and have asked all the garden gurus in my group what it is from a photo ...
view the full question and answer

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