Texas is broken up into three distinct climatic zones: Continental, Mountain and Modified Marine. Continental areas have low humidity, irregular rainfall and mild winters. The mountains have cool temperatures. Most of the state is considered a Modified Marine, or sub-tropical, climate. Tropical maritime air rolls off the Gulf of Mexico and causes warm temperatures nearly year round. Trees growing in Texas must adapt to a variety of growing conditions.
Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis) reaches 40 to 50 feet in height and develops a canopy 30 feet wide. The deep green leaves change to red and orange in the fall. This long-lived tree grows 2 to 3 feet a year. It tolerates heat, drought and poor soil. Chinese pistache resists pests and is highly adaptable. This deciduous tree can not tolerate wet roots for any length of time.
Chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) is a Texas native deciduous tree that grows 50 to 90 feet tall and 20 to 40 feet wide. Tiny white, green and brown blossoms cluster together in catkin-like strands in the spring. Saw-toothed or lobed green leaves turn yellow and bronze in autumn. Chinkapin oak produces an acorn 1 inch long. This tree prefers good-draining soil and will perform well in limestone soil. This oak tree tolerates heat and withstands long-term drought. It is less likely to develop oak wilt than any other type of oak tree.
Deciduous holly (Ilex decidua) is a small native tree growing 12 feet tall and spreading 6 feet wide. The green leaves are spoon-shaped. Tiny flower blossoms cluster on the short leaf spurs in mid-spring. Male and female plants have different flowers, but only the female plants produces berries. The deciduous holly tree sheds its leaves in autumn to show off its bright red berries all winter. These fruits are attractive to songbirds as a food source. Deciduous holly trees are heat and drought tolerant.
Satsuma mandarin (Citrus reticulata) is a cold tolerant citrus tree that survives drops in temperature down to 25 degrees F. This evergreen tree has lance-shaped, green leaves that are sometimes spiny. Fragrant white flowers are produced in the spring and attract honey bees. Easy peel, seedless oranges are produced in the late fall. It is common to find Satsuma mandarin trees growing in containers since it is easier to move them when the weather turns freezing.
Shantung maple (Acer truncatum) is a deciduous tree reaching 25 feet tall with a spreading canopy of 20 feet wide. The glossy green, five lobed leaves are 3 to 5 inches long. These leaves turn yellow and red-orange in the late fall. The green samaras or seeds are 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches long. This tough maple tolerates heat and alkaline soil. It also grows well in compacted, dry soil. The tree trunk needs wrapping for the first 3 years to prevent sunscald.