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Dallas Morning News - September 2, 2021

Trees – Most Popular Choices for North Texas - Part 1


Today we start a review series of the most popular trees from a little different view point, covering some of the facts about tree choices that you might not know about.


Live oak leaves vary tremendously in size and shape


Live oak (Quercus virginiana the coastal live oak and Q. fusiformis the escarpment live oak)
Dramatically wide growing shade trees with large limbs that can dip and sweep to the ground. They are actually too large growing for some residential properties. Both are tolerant of drought and poor soils and tolerate construction damage better than most trees. Being buried too deep in the ground is what they hate most. Live oaks are evergreen but can become almost bare in the spring when new growth is emerging. Primary negatives are susceptibility to oak wilt and arguably being overused. These trees are difficult to tell apart because of natural crossbreeding.


Red oaks are beautiful but beware of crossbred trees

Red oak fall color



Red oak (Quercus shumardii and Q. buckleyi)
Large growing deciduous trees with rounded to broad-spreading canopies. Dark, lustrous leaves are grayish-white beneath. Other important species of red oaks are listed separately and discussed in detail in the Library of These two red oaks have beautiful foliage and good but inconsistent fall color that can range bright reds to brown. Some trees will exhibit marcescence – the holding of brown leaves through the winter. Primary negative is that many red oaks are naturally cross bred with pin oaks and become chlorotic in our alkaline soils. Beware of straight trunks and pointy tops. They are also highly susceptible to over watering and poor drainage.


Bur oak leaves are large and the acorns are huge

Bur oak fall color



Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Tall, rounded tree with huge leaves with rounded lobes and golf ball size acorns that can be a problem from trees planted close to the house. Yellow fall color is so-so at best. Drought tolerant and does well in various soil types from sand to heavy clays. Lacebugs can turn leaves brownish in the summer usually due to stressful conditions – too much or too little water, too much high-nitrogen fertilizer, too deep in the ground, etc.


Cedar elm leaves are as rough as sandpaper

Cedar elm  typical yellow fall color


Cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia)
Upright growing tree with small leaves with sandpaper-like texture. Yellow fall color is fairly dependable and lots of small seeds in the fall. It is the most common elm tree in Texas and easy to grow in a wide range of soils. Needs moderate amounts of water and has low fertilizer requirements. It has reasonable quick growth and some years rather nice golden yellow fall color. Although drought tolerant it can't stand wet soil. Cedar elm will occasionally have aphids and minor elm leaf beetle damage. Mildew that discolors foliage in the late summer has become its main imperfection. Mistletoe will attack cedar elms that are in stress and poor health. Control both with the Sick Tree Treatment. Dramatic removal of lower limbs can also stress and even kill cedar elms.





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