Nearly 300 native tree species can be found in Texas. Wildlife, birds, and insects benefit in different ways from diverse tree kinds. Out of these, we are going to look at the top Texas native trees and shrubs.
Different types of trees are more prevalent in different parts of Texas. Loblolly pine, longleaf pine, and shortleaf pine trees can be found in some regions of Texas, such as the east and southeast. Red oak and post oak, which are abundant in central Texas, are also found in other parts of the state.
The bald cypress and pecan tree species can be found in the south-central region of Texas. Elm trees come in many varieties in north-central regions, whereas juniper trees with distinctive foliage are found in western regions.
Palmetto and sabal palms are common throughout coastal plains, and they create a distinctive landscape for people who live nearby riversides and beaches. And mesquite trees, which are accustomed to dry environments, thrive in desert settings.
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How Should I Select Native Trees for Texas Gardening?
When selecting native trees for a Texan landscape, there are some factors to consider. Think about the tree’s growing area first. Check the tree’s development rate, spread, and maturity height after which. Last but not least, if you don’t want to spend time trimming and raking leaves in the fall, think about how much upkeep the tree requires.
Zone 6 in the far north, Zones 7 and 8 in Central Texas, and Zone 9 in the south between the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican border are the four USDA growth zones that makeup Texas. Therefore, to purchase the proper variety of native trees for planting in Texas, determine your growing zone.
Texas Native Trees and Shrubs
There is undoubtedly a native tree species in Texas that will enhance the beauty and charm of wherever you live! Some of our favorites are included below.
- Sweet Acacia (Vachellia farnesiana)
- Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
- Blue Beech (Carpinus caroliniana)
- Texas Ash (Fraxinus texensis)
- River Birch (Betula nigra)
- Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
- Cherrybark Oak (Quercus pagoda)
- Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
- Texas Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia)
- Black Willow (Salix nigra)
- American Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
- Mexican Ash (Fraxinus berlandieriana)
- Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
1. Sweet Acacia (Vachellia farnesiana)
A native of Texas, the sweet acacia (Acacia farnesiana) can reach heights of 15 to 30 feet and a spread of 20 feet. Bright green, bipinnate leaves with several tiny leaflets are present on this plant.
Due to its propensity of growing equally up and out, in the form of a bush, the Sweet Acacia is an evergreen tree that is regarded as both a little tree and a large shrub. The fact that this little tree has several trunks contributes to its shrub-like appearance.
This shrub loves full sun exposure on well-draining soils and is drought-tolerant. Although it grows slowly, it will occasionally need to be pruned to keep the appropriate form or size.
2. Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
Eastern Texas is home to the deciduous Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica). It belongs to the most widely distributed ash species in North America. It can grow up to 60 feet or more in height in moist regions like those next to lakes, streams, or ponds.
With age, the shallow furrows in its grayish-brown bark become more noticeable. The complex leaves contain pointed teeth along the edges and seven to nine leaflets per leaf. Typically, green ash blooms from April to June; these unnoticeable, greenish-white flowers grow in bunches at the tops of branches.
Green ash yields vivid green fruits in the late summer or early fall, as its name suggests. Birds prefer to consume the seeds found in these fruits. The seeds that are not consumed develop into their distinctive papery wings. Thanks to its extensive canopy of foliage, this species makes a fantastic shade tree. One of the main sources of food for developing tadpoles is the fall of leaves into ponds and puddles.
3. Blue Beech (Carpinus caroliniana)
Eastern Texas and a large portion of the east of the United States are home to the blue beech tree (Carpinus caroliniana), sometimes referred to as the American hornbeam. It has a trunk that is one to two feet thick and can reach heights of up to 50 feet.
The leaves are deciduous and have sawtooth edges, while the bark is smooth and grayish-green. Blue beech can survive moderate drought once planted but prefers moist, shaded locations like stream banks or wet woodlands.
During the winter, birds including chickadees, titmice, woodpeckers, and nuthatches like eating their little seeds. When they are in the caterpillar stage, several species of butterflies are reliant on blue beech trees.
4. Texas Ash (Fraxinus texensis)
The native Texas ash tree grows quickly and has an oval crown of pinnate, dark green leaves. The Texas ash can be recognized by its small clusters of purple flowers, pinnate leaves with five to seven oval leaflets, and gray-brown bark with furrowed flattened ridges.
The Edwards Plateau and Central Texas are the natural habitats of the Texas ash. The medium-sized deciduous tree reaches heights of 30 to 45 ft (9 to 14 m) and widths of 25 to 30 ft (7.6 to 9 m). Its amazing annual growth rate of 2.5 ft (0.7 m) makes it one of Texas’s fastest-growing trees.
Texas ash trees thrive best in areas of the landscape with poor soil drainage as shade trees. Its leaves develop a dull brown tint in the fall.
5. River Birch (Betula nigra)
A medium-sized tree native to Eastern Texas is the river birch. This birch species features drooping clusters of greenish blooms, triangular leaves with toothed margins, and reddish-brown bark that is prone to peeling. The ovate leaves are 2″ to 3.5″ (5 – 9 cm) long and have a wedge-shaped base. Cylindrical seed cones develop after flowering.
River birch trees grow best in moist settings near lakes, ponds, marshes, and streams, as their name would imply. The elegant deciduous tree can reach heights of 40 to 70 feet (12 to 21 meters) and widths of up to 60 feet (18 meters). This type of birch thrives all over the Lone Star State and is particularly tolerant to heat.
6. Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
Since this tree is a very well-liked option for landscaping, you’re probably familiar with its well-known pink blossoms. Despite their widespread popularity, mimosa trees often don’t survive very long due to their susceptibility to mimosa vascular wilt.
Although these trees are technically native to eastern Asia, they have spread throughout eastern Texas and are now as common as native species. They aren’t regarded as an invasive species, despite this.
Mimosa trees have supple leaves that are dispersed like fern leaves. They blossom with clusters of fluffy pink blooms in the early summer.
At the end of the summer, these trees yield seed pods, but humans cannot eat them.
7. Cherrybark Oak (Quercus pagoda)
Because of its propensity for growing in damp soils in eastern Texas, this Texan oak tree is also known as the “Swamp Red Oak.”
This cultivar resembles the majority of oak trees in terms of appearance. It has a single, robust trunk that extends upward while having a full crown. Its green foliage turns into a complete crown of orange leaves in the fall.
Because of its particularly sturdy wood, which may be used for furniture, lumber, or pulpwood, the Cherrybark Oak tree has a high value in the timber sector.
8. Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
Texas is home to the medium-sized deciduous black cherry (Prunus serotina). It has an open, spreading crown and a trunk diameter of at least two feet. It can reach heights of up to 80 feet.
Black Cherry trees typically produce smaller, more bitter fruits compared to other fruit trees. The fruits are adored by birds and bears, and several animals help spread the seeds across the forest.
More commonly than its fruits, this native plant is typically picked for its wood! Black Cherry trees contain clusters of tiny white blooms and green foliage. Its reddish-brown bark bears microscopic incisions that resemble splits in it.
9. Texas Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia)
The cedar elm, or Ulmus crassifolia, is a deciduous tree that is indigenous to Texas and other southern U.S. regions. It normally reaches a height of 75 to 85 feet and has a lofty, spherical crown. The fragrant, reddish-purple flowers have a pleasant scent and bloom in the late summer. The fruit, a tiny, winged samara, ripens in the late fall.
Due to its broad canopy, the cedar elm makes a terrific choice for providing shade, but it also makes a great home for a variety of wildlife, including birds, squirrels, deer, and raccoons. It is a fantastic alternative for people who live in dry climates or regions with limited access to water at certain times of the year because it is generally drought-tolerant once grown.
10. Black Willow (Salix nigra)
The Black Willow is a big tree that can occasionally reach a height of 100 feet, however,r it typically has several trunks. Although they can be found all over Texas, black willows thrive in the moist soils along streams and creeks.
Black Willows blossom in the spring with teeny, fluffy white flowers. The tree then has golden fall foliage in the autumn.
Even though black willow wood is too soft to be used as a hardwood, it makes excellent charcoal and is occasionally used to make artificial limbs. Salicylic acid, the main component of aspirin, is also present in its bark.
11. American Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
The witch hazel tree, which also grows in central Texas, is a big shrub that thrives in moist, deep soil. It is most frequently found in eastern Texas. It generally grows beside streams or at the border of woods.
The tree has summertime yellowish-green foliage that turns vivid orange in the fall. Its magnificent, golden blossoms cover the entire plant and are incredibly colorful.
One of the rare plants that bloom in the fall, after the majority of trees have lost their leaves, is witch hazel!
You may be familiar with “Witch Hazel” because it is frequently used in or sold as a skin care product. The wood is transformed into a powerful liquid that can be used to treat burns, scars, and bruises.
12. Mexican Ash (Fraxinus berlandieriana)
The majority of Ash species, many of which are found throughout the United States and can grow up to 70–80 feet tall, are smaller than the Mexican Ash. This tree can grow to its maximum size faster than other Ash trees because of its shorter height.
Because of this, Mexican Ash is frequently utilized in southern Texas landscaping to spruce up yards or establish a natural border. Mexican Ash, which is Fraxinus velutina, is frequently misidentified as Arizona Ash in nurseries.
A deciduous tree called Mexican Ash commonly grows next to rivers. It has little, green flowers and leaves that are rather understated in appearance.
According to old wives’ tales, its wood makes excellent firewood and keeps rattlesnakes away!
13. Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
The majestic pecan tree, Texas’ state tree, is the best kept for last. If grown in an open area, these trees will spread out pretty widely and reach astonishing heights.
Pecan trees can be found throughout Texas, but they are most likely to be found in central Texas’s moist soils. However, they are also frequently planted in orchards for nuts and beautification.
There are now a huge number of distinct varieties of Pecan trees among the many nut trees planted in Texas since the nuts are so well-liked.
Pecan trees bear delicate, fluffy blossoms and prickly branches in bloom. Pecan nuts are raised in delicate husks and come in a wide range of sizes. Barbecues also employ pecan wood to create a smokey flavor in addition to the nuts.
Although this list covers all of Texas’s regions and a wide variety of trees, there are still a ton of trees that weren’t covered and many more about which we are continually learning.
Visit Trees of Texas, an online database created by researchers at Texas A&M University, if you want to see a comprehensive list of all the trees that can be found growing in Texas, both native and non-native.
The Austin government produced a visual guide for identifying native trees in central Texas if you reside there or are just curious to learn more about Texas trees.
With the help of all these materials, I hope you may learn more about Texas native trees and maybe even start to recognize, gather, or grow them.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.