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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 - September 01, 2014

From: Fredericksburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Problem Plants, Trees
Title: Problem with Chinese Pistache tree
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have a gorgeous Chinese Pistache in our yard, about 25 feet tall. We bought it for its gorgeous fall color. The problem is that it has never turned color for us. All the other pistaches in the neighborhood are gorgeous but ours goes from green to brown and that's it. What can we do? It is in full sun with well drained soil. Thanks, Colorless in Fredericksburg

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's mission is "to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes."  As the name suggests, Pistacia chinensis (Chinese pistache) is native to China and Eastern Asia, not North America.  As such, it is not a species about which we are qualified to offer advice.  I recommend that you search the internet for information about it, or consult one of the gardening forums such as GardenWeb

Additionally, it is listed as an invasive species in the Texas Invasives database.  If you should decide to replace it, there are several species native to your area in Texas that do produce beautiful fall colors:

Rhus lanceolata (Prairie flameleaf sumac)

Acer grandidentatum (Bigtooth maple)

Quercus buckleyi (Texas red oak)  Here is a photo of this tree with its fall colors from Aggie-Horticulture.

 

From the Image Gallery


Prairie flameleaf sumac
Rhus lanceolata

Bigtooth maple
Acer grandidentatum

Texas red oak
Quercus buckleyi

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