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
1 rating

Wednesday - February 27, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Problem Plants, Trees
Title: Is Robinia pseudoaccia a good replacement tree for Shumard oaks in Austin TX?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Recently two of our Shumard trees in the front of our house died. Both trees were small/medium in size having only been growing for 13-17 years. I've been reading about Black Locust trees which according to several charts seem that they would do well in the Central Texas area. They are fast growing (maybe too fast growing as several places also list them as invasive), and provide flowers for hummingbirds and bees. However, I don't see them listed in recommended trees for this area of Texas on the LBJWC site. Is there a reason this tree wouldn't do well in our climate?

ANSWER:

You have discovered a difference between the lists of plants generated by a Recommended Species Search and a Combination Search using our database.

For example, if you were searching for plants in Central Texas using the Recommended  Species Lists, you would get a list of commercially available plants suitable for gardens and planned landscapes in Texas (the key words are "commercially available"). Using the Combination Search for trees in Texas would give you a list of native tree species that occur within the state.

Black Locust Robinia pseudoacacia (Black locust) does occur in Travis County , but has some features that make it less than desirable. This excerpt from its NPIN page points these out.

“The eagerness of Robinia pseudoacacia to establish just about anywhere has a dark side; Black locust is often considered an invasive species and a garden thug because it spreads very rapidly by root sprouts and by the copious seeds it produces. Its wood, renowned for its toughness, belies its habit of shedding branches in high winds. Finally, its thorns are vicious to anyone attempting to work in or around the tree. This species and its various cultivars and hybrids should be rejected for most landscape uses because of the trees many bad habits.”
Further down the page you’ll find this; 
“Warning: This species naturalizes easily and is considered an invasive weed in many of its non-native areas of establishment. Its brittle branches (subject to breaking in winds), vicious thorns, rampant root sprouts and copious seeding make this species a garden thug.”

This theme is expanded upon in this link to  gardeninggone wild.com. 

And finally Black Locust has made the Plant Conservation Alliance’s “Least Wanted List”.

You may want to check out the Texas Tree Planting Guide  from the Texas Forest Service to help you pick out your new tree. This is an interactive guide that is just full of information about trees, and it is fun to use. By using the Custom Tree Selector, you will learn their recommendations for Travis County. Another feature in the Guide is the Tree Planting Tools page. Two topics of interest are “Relative Tree Sizes”, and “Planning for your Available Space”. 

Here is another tree planting link from the City of Houston.

And from our Step by Step Guides, “How to Plant a Tree ".

 

From the Image Gallery


Shumard oak
Quercus shumardii

More Problem Plants Questions

How to get rid of Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed)
October 02, 2013 - Mr. Smarty-Pants, I have pokeweed growing all over my backyard. I know this plant is poisonous, how do I get rid of it for good? Also, a broad leaf vine that is swallowing my trees whole.
view the full question and answer

How to Control Poison Ivy
February 22, 2016 - We have lots of Poison Ivy on a site we are clearing it is adjacent to a pond and children are around this area all the time. We are creating hiking paths. I have a lot of experience but I do not wan...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Mexican feathergrass
October 24, 2015 - I live in Austin. I've recently seen negative comments re: Mexican feathergrass. Is it native to this area? Is it becoming a problem? I have had it in my yard for years and never considered it a ...
view the full question and answer

Controlling live oak suckers in Florida
July 20, 2014 - How do I kill emerging live oak sprouts coming from mature tree root system
view the full question and answer

Will the
May 27, 2015 - I'm becoming interested in rain gardens, and although Silphium perfoliatum does not appear to be a host for butterfly caterpillars and like most of the "giant tall grass prairie daisies" may be a b...
view the full question and answer

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