Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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 - May 20, 2010

From: Tucson, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Transplants, Trees
Title: Will Texas Mountain Laurel roots damage pipes in Tucson AZ?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a Texas Laurel tree in our back yard,and it is doing fine, and we are are planning to put another one in the front yard close to the house will the root system attack our pipes ? no septic system.

ANSWER:

Do you mean a Texas Mountain Laurel, Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel)? We will assume that is the tree you are considering. We were concerned when we discovered that it is not listed as native to Arizona in our Native Plant Database; however, we then found this article by Master Gardeners on a Pima County Cooperative Extension website, Texas Mountain Laurel. You say you already have one in your yard, so obviously they must be able to live in Arizona.

When you inquire about the roots of this tree attacking your pipes, are you referring to sewer pipes or water lines? The Mountain Laurel has a sparse root system but a deep taproot, an adaptation for survival in desert conditions. Once upon a time, when most sewer lines were clay, like the clay pots,  invasive roots did, indeed, break them up and cause major problems. Nowadays, both water and sewer pipes are more often a heavy-duty plastic material, and don't have as much trouble with roots. The mountain laurel is very difficult to successfully transplant because of that taproot-damaging it in transplanting can be fatal to the tree. We would suggest that you first acquaint yourself with the location of the pipes you are concerned about, including the depth they are in the ground.  You did not say if you intended to plant seeds or purchase a tree for transplanting, but it would be a good insurance policy to not dig the hole for the tree directly over those pipes. The resources we searched made no mention of intrusive roots from this tree, just cautioned about the difficult of transplanting the tap root, as well as warning that the tree grows very, very slowly.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

 

 

 

 

More Transplants Questions

Transplanting large Silverado Sage bushes from Mesa AZ
August 19, 2013 - We just bought a condo with three Silverado Sage, each one is 6-8 ft tall, trained to grow as "trees" with bare branches for the bottom 4 feet or so, and beautiful flowering branches on top. They ar...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting and germination of Pride of Barbados in Adkins, TX
April 02, 2012 - What is the root system like of the Pride of Barbados? I have a lot of new plants coming up in my beds from seeds. Can these be transplanted to a new location easily without damaging the plants? If...
view the full question and answer

A year and a half old live oak tree is doing poorly in Nevada, TX.
May 08, 2012 - We planted a live oak tree about a year and a half ago. the tree is still rather small. The leaves are of a vibrant green, however the leave have only grown through the center of the tree and not out...
view the full question and answer

Desert willows not doing well in Navarro County, TX
May 16, 2009 - Planted 3 new desert willows , 3-4 ft.in February. Live in East Navarro County and soil is clay with slight slope to Richland Chambers lake area. Had a wet spring. These plantings appear not doing we...
view the full question and answer

Horseherb planting in Richardson, TX
October 18, 2014 - What is the best time to plant 4" pots of Horseherb?
view the full question and answer

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