Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

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?

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
6 ratings

Wednesday - May 03, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Invasive, non-native Paulownia
Answered by: Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

Hi. We would like to plant a fast growing tree that will provide shade for our house. What do you think of the Paulownia tree (Empress Tree) as a possibility for the Austin area? If this is not a good choice, what do you suggest for a two story home?

ANSWER:

Paulownia is a beautiful, extremely fast-growing tree which I would heartily recommend if you lived in eastern Asia, where it is originally from. However, in several parts of the United States it is considered invasive, including in Texas.

As far as I know, there are no Central Texas trees that will grow as fast as a Paulownia, but what our native trees lack in speed of growth they make up for in wood strength, suitability for local conditions, and stately beauty.

Some tall Central Texas trees suitable for shading a two-story house over time include:

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)

Shumard Oak (Quercus shumardii)
Escarpment Live Oak (Quercus fusiformis)
Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia)
Escarpment Black Cherry (Prunus serotina var. eximia)

Some smaller ornamental trees with showy blooms that you could use as foreground or accent plantings include:

Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora)
Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis)
Mexican Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa)


Carya illinoinensis

Quercus macrocarpa

Quercus shumardii

Quercus fusiformis

Ulmus crassifolia

Prunus serotina var. eximia

Sophora secundiflora

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Ungnadia speciosa
 

More Non-Natives Questions

Native turf grass for Austin
March 24, 2014 - I am installing a xeriscape landscape in my yard. It will be in full sun and I am looking for an alternative to turf, such as monkey grass. However, I am concerned about the light. Suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Pink Jasmine from Austin
March 23, 2011 - A week or so ago, I purchased two beautiful pink jasmine vines. The first few days after planting, they did wonderful. Now, some leaves and stems are turning brown and some flowers have fallen off. ...
view the full question and answer

Wintering over of non-native Myriophyllum brasiliensis
October 27, 2008 - I have a Myriophyllum brasiliensis in my outdoor fountain which I drain in the cold weather. How can I keep the plant alive over the winter? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Replacing St. Augustine grass from Dallas TX
April 10, 2014 - Dear Mr. Pants, we are replacing dying St. Augustine grass in a small, sunny back yard with ground cover. What are your recommendations for a drought-tolerant evergreen ground cover? We will till a...
view the full question and answer

Non-native lilacs for Salt Lake City, UT
April 15, 2012 - Is the weather in Salt Lake City UT good enough to plant a lilac bush root? If not, how long should I wait?
view the full question and answer

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