Native Trees of Texas
Texas is a geographically large state with numerous topographic variations and diverse regional climates. While the areas along the coast have a maritime climate, West Texas is hot and dry. The Texas Hill Country frequently experiences hot, humid summers and cooler, damp winters. Native trees of Texas typically thrive in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zones 6 to 9.
The honey mesquite tree (Prosopis glandulosa), a perennial member of the pea family (Fabaceae), reaches up to 30 feet in height with similar spreads. This tree features green, feathery leaves and thorny twigs. The fragrant, yellow flowers bloom from February through September. The honey mesquite tree thrives in various types of soil in sunny positions. Ranchers often consider this native Texas tree a range weed due to its aggressive growing behavior. The honey mesquite makes a good landscape or shade tree.
The western soapberry (Sapindus drummondii), a Texas native tree belonging to the Sapindaceae family, grows well along stream banks and canyons in East and West Texas. This perennial tree grows between 10 and 50 feet tall, depending on the depth of the soil, and spreads between 10 and 20 feet. The western soapberry tree features gray bark, green leaves and large clusters of white- or cream-colored flowers that bloom in May and June. The blossoms are followed by fruit containing the alkaloid saponin toxin. Western soapberry trees need limestone soils in partially shady to fully sunny locations. Gardeners often use the western soapberry as a landscape tree.
West Texas Live Oak
The West Texas live oak (Quercus fusiformis), also called the escarpment live oak and the plateau live oak, belongs to the Fagaceae plant family. This spreading tree thrives in well-drained, slightly acidic to alkaline soils in sunny positions. The West Texas live oak tree handles cold and drought conditions better than other live oak varieties. Mature trees grow between 20 and 50 feet in height with spreads ranging from 25 to 40 feet. Yellow to green flowers bloom from March through May. This Texas native tree grows well in areas between the Pecos River and the Brazos River. Gardeners often plant the West Texas live oak as a shade tree.
The Texas cedar tree (Juniperus ashei), also called the ashe juniper and mountain cedar, thrives in limestone soils from west to central Texas. The dominant cedar tree of the Texas Hill Country, the Texas cedar features dark green leaves, a pleasant cedar scent, large pinecones and shaggy bark. The Texas cedar reaches heights up to 38 feet and spreads up to 30 feet. This cedar variety requires dry, well-drained soils in partly shady locations. The pollen causes allergic reactions in many individuals. The Texas cedar works well as a landscape tree.
Texas ash (Fraxinus texensis), also called mountain ash, is a drought-tolerant tree that grows on the limestone bluffs running from Central to Northern Central Texas. While this Texas native tree needs little water, it can tolerate moisture if planted in well-drained soils. Purple or green flowers bloom from April through June, and the green leaves turn various shades of purple, gold, red and orange in the autumn. The Texas ash reaches up to 50 feet in height and 40 feet wide. This deciduous tree grows well as a landscape tree.