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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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Sunday - October 11, 2015

From: Belton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Trees
Title: Identity of evergreen tree at Barton Springs in Austin TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am trying to identify an evergreen tree at Barton Springs in Austin. It is growing on the south lawn overlooking the pool. It has needles arranged in a fan like shape and makes a kind of crown-shaped fruit which dries then splits open along its length in several places to release the seeds it contains. It resembles some sort of cedar or cypress. I have seen these trees in Belton, Texas. I appreciate your help. Thank you, David

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants made a trip to Barton Springs to look at this tree and to take some photographs.  Unfortunately, it doesn't have any mature fruit on it at the moment which would make identifying it easier.  However, from the photographs our expert, Joe Marcus, believes it to be Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic white cedar).  You can see in the USDA Plants Database distribution map that it is native to the East Coast, but not native to Texas.  It has, however, been in the nursery trade for years and was chosen and planted in its spot overlooking Barton Springs pool many years ago.  You can see more photos and information from Virginia Tech, GoBotany (NewEnglandWild), Richard Stockton College and from LeafSnap.

 

From the Image Gallery


Atlantic white cedar
Chamaecyparis thyoides

Atlantic white cedar
Chamaecyparis thyoides

Atlantic white cedar
Chamaecyparis thyoides

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