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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - November 14, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Possibility of symbiotic relationship between cedar elm and ashe juniper
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Is there a symbiotic relationship between cedar elm and ashe juniper? We have a small ashe juniper sapling and a small cedar elm sapling growing near each other (actually, we planted the juniper 2 years ago because we often see the two trees growing together in the wild). The juniper is very prickly and unsuitable for our yard and we wish to take it out, but don't want to harm the growing cedar elm. Is it ok to cut down the juniper? thanks!

ANSWER:

I can find no information suggesting that there is a symbiotic relationship between the two species, cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia) and ashe juniper (Juniperus ashei). They probably grow together because they both like the same growing conditions—soil type and moisture. The distributions of cedar elm and ashe juniper overlap in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri, but cedar elm also occurs further east in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Florida without ashe juniper. The fact that cedar elm grows without ashe juniper nearby in those states would seem to be evidence that there isn't a symbiotic relationship between the two. Your cedar elm should grow just fine without the juniper nearby.

Concerning the "pricklyness" of the juniper, if it is a very small, young tree, its prickly needles are its defense against being eaten. As it matures it will lose the sharp needles and become less prickly, so you might consider keeping it. However, if it turns out to be a pollen-producing male tree, you might want to think about cutting it down if you or your neighbors are allergic to the juniper pollen.

 

More Trees Questions

Stump sprouting of Oak trees in the wildfire area in Bastrop, TX.
May 13, 2012 - We live in Bastrop, Texas, in the wildfire area. We lost all of our trees. The oak trees have "suckers" growing from the base of the burned tree that has been cut down. They look like little bushe...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen native trees for Austin
January 31, 2009 - Please recommend all evergreen native trees for Austin TX.
view the full question and answer

Will wood shavings in the soil require nitrogen from Charleston MO
May 04, 2011 - I cut down a big maple tree and a lot of the wood shavings was left in the soil. I planted a flower bed over the area this spring. I later read that the wood chips in the soil would use a lot of nitro...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting time for Smoketree in Quebec
September 14, 2006 - I would like to transplant my smoke tree. It is two years old. When would be the best time of the year to transplant. I live in Zone 4.
view the full question and answer

Hackberry stripped by Cedar Waxwings or American Goldfinches
March 27, 2007 - I live in Fort Worth. My one and only tree in the backyard is a 23 year old hackberry. While not infested with gall or weevils, we have been invaded this past few weeks by hordes of small, chubby, yel...
view the full question and answer

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