Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - January 15, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: large tree suited for limestone site in Austin, TX
Answered by: Guy Thompson


I have a dying Chinaberry tree [35 ' tall; WNW corner of lot; at least 25 years old] that I am having removed. What native / adapted tree would you recommend to fill that void. I do understand that it will take a lot of time or a lot of money for another tree to get that size, but I would like to plant water wise and get rid of this invasive plant. We live on layers of limestone / bluestone in the Great Hills area of Austin.


A good description of trees suitable for the Austin area has been published by the City of Austin. Large native tree species that will thrive on your site are limited in number. I recommend either Ulmus crassifolia (Cedar elm) or Fraxinus albicans (Texas ash) as being best suited for your limestone setting. If you have a pocket of fairly deep soil, consider Quercus muehlenbergii (Chinkapin oak) or Acer grandidentatum (Bigtooth maple), species that are becoming more popular in Austin. Quercus buckleyi (Texas red oak) should do well, but it is very susceptible to oak wilt.

Winter is the best time to plant trees. Tips on tree planting are on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center web site. You can find native trees at local plant nurseries, such as Barton Springs Nursery and The Natural Gardener.


From the Image Gallery

Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

Texas ash
Fraxinus albicans

Chinkapin oak
Quercus muehlenbergii

Bigtooth maple
Acer grandidentatum

Texas red oak
Quercus buckleyi

More Planting Questions

Spacing for Dogwoods and Cotoneasters
February 21, 2016 - How close should Dogwoods and Cotoneasters be to bricks?
view the full question and answer

Care for Blackfoot daisy?
June 05, 2009 - Hi, I have two blackfoot daisies and one has died. I've planted them in full sun on a well drained slope. Do these ususally die after blooming? Should I cut the other one back? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Would like fast growing evergreen trees in Austin, TX.
October 31, 2012 - Hi, We're moving to Southwest Austin and would like to plant a cluster of pines (or cypress trees?) or other fast growing, large and tall evergreen trees. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Best time to plant Habiturf in Austin
February 20, 2012 - When is the best time to plant Habiturf seeds?
view the full question and answer

Planting Habiturf in Houston, TX>
March 08, 2012 - First, I want to say thank you for such an informative site. You say that the Buffalograsses tend to do well in drier and well drained soil. My house has a lawn that drops about 10 inches in about...
view the full question and answer

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