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
2 ratings

Tuesday - May 10, 2011

From: Burnet, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Low water use tree to shade pond in Burnet TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm in need of some shade at a 1/2 acre pond, but I don't want a tree to consume so much water that it will lower the water level. During droughts the little pond needs all the water it can get. Someone said that bald cypress trees would use alot of water and lower the level. What are your thoughts?

ANSWER:

The first thing we did was look at our webpage on Taxodium distichum (Bald cypress) to see what it said. You can follow the link and do the same. On that page, it was noted that the tree has medium water demands, can grow in sun or part shade, and likes moist soil but can adapt to semi-dry conditions. Apparently one of the advantages of this tree is that it can survive and even flourish in an area which has periodic flooding and then dry spells.

Having found out what benefits the tree, we still could not get any concrete information on how the tree affected neighboring water features, so we next went to the Internet to see if we might find some indications on that subject. From a USDA Forest Service article on the Bald Cypress, we picked up on this quotation:

"Riverine swamps of baldcypress cause floodwaters to spread out, slow down, and infiltrate the soil. Thus, these stands reduce damage from floods and act as sediment and pollutant traps."

You should read this whole article and see if it gives you any indicators that we missed. Our take on the quotation was that it would be beneficial to have this tree in an area that can get periodically flooded and then lose a great deal of water as it washes away, which would seem to justify the tree as a water retention tool.

By going to the bottom of our webpage on this tree, you can find a link to Google on it; we did this and found several other articles about the tree, all recommending it as a very good tree, but slow-growing, that could get very large and very old. Nowhere did we find any indication that it would slurp the water away from the pond. Of course, it needs water, all plants do, but if it is growing in its natural habitat, then it is adapted to that habitat, and probably won't harm it. We do want to remind you that this is not a good time to be planting trees in Central Texas. Late Fall or Winter would be much better. A tree planted now, in the heat and drought we are experiencing, could very well be a victim of transplant shock, and either die or have its growth severely inhibited.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Taxodium distichum


Taxodium distichum


Taxodium distichum


Taxodium distichum

 

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Flowering Shrub for Houston, TX
April 24, 2014 - I live in Houston, Texas and would like to plant a flowering shrub 3-6 feet in height. It will get sun to part sun, 2-6 hours daily. I have had azaleas in this area and am now looking for something to...
view the full question and answer

Should Solanum eleagnifolium, silverleaf nightshade, be removed from yard
October 01, 2009 - I live in Upstate NY. I'm quite sure, after checking many sites/pictures, that I have a couple specimens of Silver Leaf Night Shade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) growing in the "wild" portion of my side...
view the full question and answer

Decorative Trees for Scenic Bench in Fairhope IL
June 10, 2012 - I am looking for a recommendation for a pair of small trees (does not grow taller than 18-20 feet) that can provide shade on either side of a stone bench. The site is in full sun, western exposure an...
view the full question and answer

What shade trees and shrubs are safe to plant around horses in Iowa?
February 09, 2009 - I need to know what shade trees, flowering trees, shrubs and flowering shrubs are safe to plant around horses in Iowa. thanks
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for dry shade in North Central Texas
March 09, 2008 - I live in North Central Texas and have an area that is 80% shade and a dry soil condition. What native grasses would be suitable for this location?
view the full question and answer

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