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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 - September 16, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Shrubs with berries for birds and growing small red oak tree
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Recently, I saw a short article about attracting birds to one's yard. The article said to plant "berry-bearing" shrubs, but didn't name any specific shrubs. Could you tell me the names of shrubs that would appeal to our local birds? Also, can you suggest anything that might encourage a tiny red oak tree to grow? We planted a "volunteer" from another yard, but it has stubbornly refused to grow more than 2 inches in 3 years. I don't want to yank it and replace it, because it is still very much alive, just tiny. Thank you for reading my e-mail. Clueless in the landscape,

ANSWER:

Here are several "berry-bearing" shrubs that are native to Central Texas and will attract birds.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

Ilex decidua (possumhaw)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita)

Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry)

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

Rhus lanceolata (prairie sumac)

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac)

You might also like read several of our How to Articles (e.g., "Creating a Wildflower Garden", "Wildlife Gardening Bibliography").

I'm not sure whether you have Quercus texana (Texas red oak) or Quercus shumardii (Shumard's oak). They are very similar and they both have a moderate growth rate. Little growth in three years is not a good sign, but plants sometimes do this and then suddenly put on a great growth spurt just when you're about to give up on them.

 


Ilex vomitoria

Ilex decidua

Callicarpa americana

Mahonia trifoliolata

Mahonia swaseyi

Rhus aromatica

Rhus glabra

Rhus lanceolata

Rhus virens

 

 

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