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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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Tuesday - August 11, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Can a Quaking aspen grow in central Texas?
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I live in Austin and like the idea of a Quaking Aspen tree. I live on a creek and the tree(s) would get good sun and water. Am I crazy?

ANSWER:

Yes!  

You aren't the only person in love with Populus tremuloides (Quaking aspen).  The fact that none are seen in this area suggests that they are not happy here.  It sounds as though you have most of the right conditions for Aspen growth.  But you can't control our high summer temperatures.  A number of studies have shown that prolonged heat damages Aspen.  The structure of Aspen xylem elements is such that not enough water can be drawn up into the canopy during hot weather.  The stressed tree easily falls victim to disease and other disorders.

You would be better off settling for one of the more mundane, yet very attractive, tree species recommended by the City of Austin. Populus deltoides (Eastern cottonwood) and Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore) have some of the qualities of an Aspen and thrive in Austin.

I admire you for thinking outside the box.  Keep looking for the unusual.

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern cottonwood
Populus deltoides

Eastern cottonwood
Populus deltoides

American sycamore
Platanus occidentalis

American sycamore
Platanus occidentalis

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