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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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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!

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Sunday - August 19, 2012

From: Utopia, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Pruning Texas madrone trees from Utopia TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a number of large Texas Madrone trees on my ranch in Utopia Texas. A few of them have dead limbs and I was wondering whether I should cut off the dead limbs or just leave the tree alone. I want to protect the tree at all costs. Thanks

ANSWER:

You are very fortunate to have Arbutus xalapensis (Texas madrone) growing natively on your property. Probably one reason, as this USDA Plant Profile Map shows, is that it is native to Uvalde County. Follow our plant link above to read our webpage on the Texas Madrone.

From the webpage:

"Conditions Comments: One of the most interesting and beautiful native trees of Texas, but temperamental to propagate or grow. Propagation requirements are complex, and it is very difficult to transplant successfully from the wild. In the landscape, it grows best in well-drained areas."

Since this member of the Mr. Smarty Plants Team has no personal experience with the care of this tree, we went looking on the Internet for some more information.

Previous Mr. Smarty Plants Answer

From the USDA Forest Service, here is an article on the Texas Madrone.

From the Texas A&M Native Plant Database: Texas Madrone

None of these sources yielded any information about pruning. Frankly, we think you would be more comfortable if you could bring in a  certified arborist, with some experience with this tree. Go to our National Suppliers Directory, and enter your town and state or zipcode in the "Enter Search Location" box. This will produce a list of native plant seed companies, nurseries and consultants in your general area. All have contact information, so you can check with arborists on their licensing and experience with the Arbutus xalapensis (Texas madrone).

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas madrone
Arbutus xalapensis

Texas madrone
Arbutus xalapensis

Texas madrone
Arbutus xalapensis

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