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?


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

Sunday - August 19, 2012

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


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


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

More Trees Questions

Split trunk in Bald Cypress in Uhland, TX
May 31, 2009 - I live just south of Austin, and near the pond (stock tank) is a bald cypress, young, about 12-15 yrs., and after this past year, drought and all, I was dismayed to find it not leafing out. When I in...
view the full question and answer

Bird-friendly plants for the Texas coast
July 13, 2012 - I'm interested in starting a native plant garden, specifically with an eye towards providing food (either from the plants or insects that are attracted to the plants) for migratory birds. However, s...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting hackberry trees in Texas
September 17, 2008 - I live N of Ft Worth,Tx is there a trick to digging up & transplanting hackberry trees?
view the full question and answer

Native tree for cemetery in Western Oklahoma
May 06, 2009 - My siblings and I are wanting to plant a tree next to my Mother's grave at the cemetery. It is in Western Oklahoma so hot sun and constant high wind are both considerations to choosing the right tree...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen native trees for Austin
January 31, 2009 - Please recommend all evergreen native trees for Austin TX.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center