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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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Monday - November 27, 2006

From: Hutto, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Alternatives for non-native Bradford Pear
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, can you please give me some information about the "bradford flowering pear"? I live in Hutto,Tx. I want to know if this is a good tree to plant. What are the benefits of choosing this tree and is it easy to take care? How do I take care of it? Can you also give me information about what fruit trees I can grow as well. Thanks.

ANSWER:

The Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana) is a native of China. Our mission statement reads: "The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants, and landscapes." Since our focus and expertise is with plants native to North America, we don't recommend planting non-natives. We can recommend several attractive alternatives, however, that are native to Central Texas:

Mexican or Bigtree Plum (Prunus mexicana) produces beautiful showy white flowers in the spring and has the added advantage of producing plums that can be eaten or made into jam or jelly.

The hawthorns, such as Green Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis) or Cockspur Thorn (Crataegus crus-galli), also have profuse white flowers in the spring.

Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) has magenta flowers in the spring and produces reddish seed pods that remain on the tree after the leaves have fallen.

Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) has large pink flowers in the spring and grows quickly.

You can find more trees using your own criteria for size, flowers, fruit, etc., by searching in the Texas Tree Planting Guide from Texas A&M and the Texas Forest Service.

The Williamson County Extension Office of Texas Cooperative Extension Service has recommendations for fruit and nut tree varieties that do well in Williamson County.

 

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