Texas' native trees were growing wild there when the first European explorers arrived. Having adapted over thousands of years to Texas' climate and soils, they are much better able to withstand drought, disease and pests than trees introduced from elsewhere. They're also the trees most appealing to Texas' native wildlife.
Blackbrush acacia (acacia rigidula) is a small tree with curved thorns that reaches up to 15 feet. Often growing in thickets, these trees produce 2- to 3-inch spikes of fragrant flowers. Creamy white to light yellow, the flowers resemble those of bottlebrush. The heaviest bloom occurs in spring, but the trees flower into autumn. Other ornamental features are the nearly white bark, deep-green glossy leaves and reddish-brown seedpods. Its nectar attracts honeybees and butterflies. Blackbrush acacia is highly effective for erosion control. These heat and drought-resistant trees are happiest in well-drained, sandy alkaline soils and full sun to partial shade. Regular pruning causes heavier branching and bloom
Texas madrone (arbutus xalapensis) is a multi-trunked tree reaching between 20 to 30 feet. It has red-edged, dark-green leathery leaves and early spring clusters of feathery white blossoms followed by autumn clusters of edible red-orange berries. Texas madrone's most appealing feature, however, is its bark. The aging outer bark peels away, according to Texas A&M's Department of Horticultural Sciences, to reveal inner bark of white or varying shades of peach, orange or red. Texas madrone likes sunny to partly shady locations with alkaline to slightly acidic, well-drained soil. Drainage and water amounts are more important to its survival in home gardens with that soil type. Trees do not transplant well from the wild and are difficult to propagate in landscapes.
Sweet Desert Willow
Bursting into bloom after rain, 15- to 40-foot slender-branched sweet desert willow (chilopsis linearis) trees have dense spikes of ruffled, funnel-shaped purple or pink blossoms. The flowers' throats often have white, purple or yellow stripes. Six- to 10-inch hanging seedpods appear after the flowers. Growing wild in south-central Texas, these trees make excellent choices for ornamental landscaping. Their rapid growth, fragrance and drought resistance have led to the development of many cultivars for home landscaping. Gardeners can choose trees for their flower colors, leaf size or number of seedpods. Flowers appear between late spring and autumn with sufficient rainfall or watering. Excessive water--more than 30 inches annually--harms trees more than drought. Plant them in sun and well-drained soil with minimal organic content. Soil high in limestone is best, but sand, loam or clay is acceptable. Let trees dry out between watering. Remove dead flowers and seedpods to extend the blooming season. Regular pruning encourages new growth and heavier bloom. The flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies and honeybees, and the tree is an effective form of erosion control.