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
2 ratings

Tuesday - September 20, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Trees
Title: Trees suited for rocky, caliche soil of Central Texas
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I need to replace aging ashes. I have planted 2 Monterey oaks, but I would like to know what else I could plant whose roots will grow well in NW Austin caliche, rocky soil? Thank you.

ANSWER:

There is a wide variety of native trees suitable for your soil.  Let me begin with large trees, mostly oaks.  The most commonly found oaks in your area are Quercus fusiformis (Escarpment live oak) and Quercus buckleyi (Texas red oak).  The former is evergreen and the latter deciduous.  Both grow into large, handsome trees, but they are susceptible to attack by oak wilt.  Oak species that are resistant to oak wilt include Quercus stellata (Post oak), Quercus macrocarpa (Bur oak), and Quercus muehlenbergii (Chinkapin oak). Quercus laceyi (Lacey oak) grows into a medium sized tree in your area.  Ulmus crassifolia (Cedar elm) is also popular in the Austin area and develops yellow-orange leaves in autumn.

Smaller trees worth considering include Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud), Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel), Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum), and Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow).  Except for Desert willow, which needs full sun, the others are generally understory trees that thrive in partial shade but can take full sun.

Check out the characteristics of the recommended trees by clicking on the underlined names.  Note that some grow more slowly than others, if this is a consideration. Attached below are sample images of the trees I mentioned.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Texas red oak
Quercus buckleyi

Post oak
Quercus stellata

Bur oak
Quercus macrocarpa

Chinkapin oak
Quercus muehlenbergii

Lacey oak
Quercus laceyi

Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

More Trees Questions

Sycamore leaf snowbell from Pleasanton TX
August 18, 2012 - How do you care for a sycamore leaf snowbell. Does it like sun or part shade? How much water? How often and what should it be fed. How fast or slowly does it grow? Anything you can tell me would be ap...
view the full question and answer

Fraxinus cuspidata (Fragrant Ash)
May 30, 2008 - Two part question: 1) Will fragrant (flowering; Fraxinus cuspidata) ash survive in Zone 7b? 2) Where can I get it?
view the full question and answer

Disappearance of leaves on desert willow in Tucson AZ
August 08, 2009 - We have a Lois Adams Desert Willow (Tucson, Az). The leaves will pump out and then a day or so later, all of the leaves are gone. The only bugs we've seen on it are very, very small ants. Could this ...
view the full question and answer

Is a wasp colony in hollow in my oak tree harming it?
November 26, 2013 - I have wasps colonizing a hollow portion of a live oak here in my backyard in Austin ten feet from my backdoor. They are yellow and black banded, maybe an inch long. Two questions: 1. Are they hurt...
view the full question and answer

Native drought resistant evergreen plants for privacy hedgein clay soil in Texas
March 08, 2006 - My family would like to create privacy around our 4 acres of fence line. What native evergreen or fast growing bushes would work? We have terrible clay soil and need drought resistant plants.
view the full question and answer

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