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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 - April 24, 2011

From: Katy, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: HOA chopping down wax myrtles from Katy TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My local HOA just chopped down 80+ wax myrtles saying that they lived out their life span..they are roughly 18-20 years old..is there a species of wax myrtles that lives only 20 years..or did they confuse mature maximum height and lifespan?

ANSWER:

There are 4 species of the genus Morella listed in our Native Plant Database. The one that is probably in your area is Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle). The others, found more commonly in other parts of the country, are: Morella californica (California wax myrtle), Morella caroliniensis (Southern bayberry) and Morella pensylvanica (Northern bayberry). We looked at a lot of papers and articles about these plants, and not a single one mentioned anything about expected age of decline, or maturity. All mentioned heights, but they were all over everywhere, ranging from 3 to 40 ft. tall.

We really don't know what the reason was for cutting down the wax myrtles. Without being able to see them, we could hardly know if there was disease or insect damage.

 

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