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12 Central Texas Trees That Grow Well in This Landscape

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Home » Texas » 12 Central Texas Trees That Grow Well in This Landscape

If you are interested in Central Texas trees, you will need to take into account the conditions.

It has a kind of climate of its own that results from a mixture of its surroundings. You have the wet, humid air from the southeast, the dry desert at the southwest, the winding hill country, and the central plains. A little bit of everything!

In simpler terms, central TX is mostly USDA Growing Zone 8, the largest growing zone in Texas. Central TX is a great place for growing many kinds of fruit trees, flowering trees, huge shade trees, and many varieties of native species.

You can imagine that with this much natural diversity, there’s an endless list of trees you can grow in the heart of Texas. Thankfully, this is not an endless article!

Here, we’ll start with twelve different trees that grow well in central TX.

12 Central Texas Trees Ideal For Growing Today

1. Mexican-Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa)

Mexican Buckeye
Image by Stan Shebs via Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

The Mexican Buckeye is native to Texas, but it’s only found growing in the rocky bluffs of central and western Texas- a true local species!

As a species that has adapted to this region, it grows well on, and actually prefers, the rough limestone soil found throughout central TX. This could be a perfect species if you have lots of dry limestone soil and have struggled growing other species.

These beautiful trees have dark green leaves that turn bright yellow in the fall just before dropping. In the spring, they bloom with little pink flowers that grow in clusters all along the branches.

Mexican Buckeyes produce a lobe-shaped fruit that looks a bit like figs and ripens throughout the summer, after the flowers drop. It’s much harder than a fig because the fruit is actually a shell to protect the seeds inside. The seeds are mildly toxic for humans and shouldn’t be eaten!

Other Common Names: Willow

Growing Zones: 8-11

Average Size at Maturity: 20 ft tall by 10 ft wide

Season: Flowers in early spring

2. Jerusalem Thorn (Parkinsonia aculeata)

Jerusalem_thorn
Image by Zeynel Cebeci via Wikimedia Commons (CC 4.0)

Although they’re not very well known, Jerusalem Thorn is another native that grows all over central Texas. Native people in this region used to grind up Jerusalem Thorn seeds into a powder and use it as flour.

These trees have long, elegant branches that hang down. Their light green leaves dangle off the branches, adding to the drooping look. Amidst this hanging canopy, the young twigs are also light green until they mature, turning brown and growing thorns.

Jerusalem Thorn flowers are yellow with long, stringy petals that almost look like catkins. The flowers usually bloom in the summer, but they can bloom sooner if there’s a substantial warm spring rain.

These trees are most often found growing along the Rio Grande river, thriving on the moist soil. They’re more common in the southern half of the state, but have been found growing all the way up to Dallas.

Other Common Names: Retama, Paloverde, Mexican Palo Verde, Horsebean

Growing Zones: 8-11

Average Size at Maturity: 20 ft tall by 25 ft wide

Season: Flowers in Spring

3. Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora)

texas mountain laurel flowering
Image by sfbaywalk via Flickr

Texas Mountain Laurel is another tree that actually thrives in the limestone soil all over central TX. Plus, it has gorgeous purple flowers that make you want to plant this tree everywhere you can!

This is another native species that is really popular all over the state. Texas Mountain Laurel grows in abundance in central TX, but it’s also commonly found in the east and in the mountains of western TX.

In the spring these blossoms are unmistakable: they open and form huge flowers that hang off the tree, just like Wisteria flowers. The blooms are lilac with a blue tint and produce a strong scent similar to grape! Even better- the flowers stay on the tree for several weeks.

Aside from its stunning flowers, Texas Mountain Laurel is an evergreen tree. So, it keeps its bright green leaves, which contrast beautifully with its blackish-brown bark.

Other Common Names: Mescalbean, Mountain Laurel, Mescal Bean Sophora, Frijolillo, Frijolito

Growing Zones: 7-10

Average Size at Maturity: 15-25 ft tall by 8-10 ft wide

Season: Spring

4. American Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

American Witchhazel
Image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr

You may have already heard of Witch Hazel since it’s become so popular for skin care uses. The wood can be distilled and the liquid is used for treating blemishes, burns, or bruises. Along with its medicinal benefits, Witch Hazel is also simply beautiful as a tree!

American Witchhazel is considered a large shrub or a small tree because it grows in a bushy shape, low to the ground and with a wide canopy. It has round green leaves that turn golden yellow in the fall.

Interestingly, Witch Hazel is one of the few trees in the U.S. with flowers that bloom after the leaves drop! In mid-fall, the branches are dotted with stringy, yellow-orange flowers.

American Witch Hazel grows very well in central and eastern TX wherever there is moist soil. It’s often found growing along rivers or streams where it can soak up lots of moisture.

Other Common Names: Virginian Witch Hazel, Snapping Hazel Nut, Winter Bloom

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 20 ft tall 20 ft wide

Season: Flowers in Fall

Available at: Nature Hills

5. Black Walnut (Juglans Nigra)

Black Walnut Tree
Image by ECP via Flickr

Walnut trees are one of the best nut trees to grow in Texas, since they can grow in almost every part of the state. They’re a great choice for central TX, where they will thrive and live long.

Walnut trees are very low-maintenance and are really easy to grow , regardless of your gardening skills. The main thing to consider when growing a walnut tree is space, because they can get really, really big! This also means that they make for great shade trees.

Their leaves turn yellow and deep orange in the fall and have a nice, woodsy aroma that is released when the leaves drop and are stepped on. This smell is reflective of the fragrant wood, which is often used for smoking meats. Although, it’s also used for furniture!

Of course, one of the greatest perks of growing a walnut tree is the actual walnuts! Once mature, these trees produce loads of nuts every year.

Other Common Names: American Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 70-100 ft tall by 50-80 ft wide

Season: Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

6. Leatherwood (Cyrilla racemiflora)

Leatherwood flowering
Image by peganum via Flickr

Leatherwood trees have many phases of their beauty, from their flowers to fall foliage. As young trees, they have a shrubby shape but over time, they become slender trees that are quite tall.

These trees are native to the southeastern U.S., so they grow in abundance in eastern TX and the moist areas of central TX. As southern trees, they have a high tolerance for flooding, humidity, and coastal winds. Leatherwood trees love moist, loamy soil and prefer the richer parts of central TX.

Leatherwood trees have amazing white flowers with petals several inches long that look like feathers. The petals are attached at the center and extend outward like starbursts. These flowers last on the tree until late summer.

The flowers are known to attract lots of pollinators- another great reason to plant this tree in your garden. In fact, in the areas where these trees are really common, “Titi Honey” is produced as a local delicacy!

Other Common Names: Titi, Swamp Titi, Black Titi, White Titi, Swamp Cyrilla, Burnwood Bark, Palo Colorado

Growing Zones: 5-11

Average Size at Maturity: 8-30 ft tall by 10-15 ft wide

Season: Spring

7. Lacey Oak (Quercus laceyi)

Lacey Oak
Image by Shrie Bradford Spangler via Flickr

There are many kinds of Oak trees that grow in Texas, but the Lacey Oak can only be found growing in central TX. In fact, there actually isn’t much data about this tree since it only grows in one specific region.

Lacey Oak can be found in the area around the Edwards Plateau, west of central TX. It grows throughout mid-western Texas, just out to Big Bend National Park. As with other central Texas natives, Lacey Oak trees grow very well in limestone soil.

Lacey Oaks have bluish-green leaves, closer in color to the foliage of juniper trees. Something that distinguishes Lacey Oak from other Oak trees is that the leaves in the underbrush are pale blue.

As with other Oak trees, Lacey Oak trees produce acorns in the fall that can be harvested and used in many ways. Along with the acorns, the wood is often used as firewood or for fence posts.

Other Common Names: Blue Oak, Canyon Oak

Growing Zones: 7-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 ft tall by 20-30 ft wide

Season: Fall

8. Red Haven Peach Tree (Prunus persica ‘Redhaven’)

We all know about Georgia peaches- but Texas peaches are just as good! There are a few different varieties of peach trees you can grow in Texas, but the Red Haven is one of the best varieties grown in the country.

Red Haven is the most popular variety and is most likely the type of peach you’ve had from stores or local markets. Not only are the peaches considered some of the best tasting but the tree itself is a strong grower.

Red Haven Peach trees are highly disease resistant and adapt well to different types of soil. They’re also self-fertile, so you’ll only need to grow one to have a full harvest of fruits!

You just need to prune your tree once a year so it’s healthy and can support the weight of the plump peaches. Along with its juicy fruits, peach trees have gorgeous pink blossoms in the spring, similar to cherry blossoms!

Other Common Names: Red Haven, Dwarf Red Haven

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 12-15 ft tall by 10-12 ft wide

Season: Flowers in late spring; Fruits in late summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

9. Texas Persimmon (Diospyros texana)

Texas persimmon
Image by Lars Plougmann via Flickr

In my mind, Texas Persimmon trees are a classic central TX tree. A native Texas fruit tree, they can be found all over the hill country. They’re great for landscaping since they grow easily in our climate (and have beautiful flowers!) and their tasty fruit makes them a great choice for gardens.

Texas Persimmon trees are well adapted to central TX heat, so they can handle high temperatures and periods of drought. They’re also highly adaptable to different types of soil.

And these trees are stunning! In the spring, they bloom with large, bell-shaped white flowers dotted along the branches. They have a strong, sweet fragrance that invites springtime.

Their fruits ripens throughout the summer and are ready for harvest in the fall. The fruit are blackish purple, sweet, juicy, and filled with seeds. Along with the fruit, the leaves turn red then purple as the fall continues.

Other Common Names: Texan Persimmon, Southern Persimmon

Growing Zones: 4-10

Average Size at Maturity: 35-60 ft tall by 25-35 ft wide

Season: Flowers in Spring, Fruits in Fall

10. Loblolly Pine Tree (Pinus taeda)

Loblolly Pine - 2 Square - 800 x 450 - LYRAE
Images by Lyrae Willis (Own Work) for Tree Vitalize

Most pine trees in Texas can be found in the north, but there are a few that are more heat tolerant and can thrive in central TX. The Loblolly Pine actually grows all over the state and can be found all throughout the southeastern U.S..

Loblolly Pine is a fundamental tree in the southeastern climate, providing home and food for many animals in this ecosystem. It’s also known to attract many pollinators, specifically butterflies! Pollinators flock to this tree in the spring when its fragrant flowers are in bloom.

Loblolly is a great pine to plant because it grows very fast– averaging two feet per year! Aside from being planted for landscaping, it’s also planted for natural fencing because it’s thick and tall.

These trees are fairly easy to grow and can adapt to many types of soil. But, they are susceptible to Southern Pine Beetles and should be protected.

Other Common Names: Oldfield Pine, Bull Pine, Rosemary Pine

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 60-90 ft tall by 25-35 ft wide

Season: Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

11. Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica)

Blackjack Oak
Image by Kenraiz via Wikimedia Commons (CC 4.0)

Blackjack Oak can be found all throughout central and eastern TX, often growing on dry and sandy soil. It’s one of the most common varieties of Oak trees in central TX and actually has a subspecies that only grows in the limestone soil in central TX.

These trees have beautiful red-orange flowers and dark green leaves that turn rust-colored in the fall. One identifying trait of Blackjack Oak is its dark gray bark, which cracks in a checkerboard design.

Blackjack Oaks produces loads of acorns that drop in fall and can be used in many ways. Its wood is also widely used because it’s strong and heavy. It can be used for fencing or construction, as firewood, or for making charcoal.

Other Common Names: Cow Oak, Basket Oak

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall by 30 ft wide

Season: Fall

Available at: Nature Hills

12. Santa Rosa Plum Tree (Prunus salicina ‘Santa Rosa’)

Santa Rosa Plum Fruit and Flowers
Image via Fast-Growing-Trees, combined by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Santa Rosa Plum trees are commonly grown all over the U.S. because of their great fruits and because they’re so easy to grow. Also, these trees don’t grow very tall, so they can be planted even in small gardens.

Plum trees are smaller trees with a rounded canopy, so harvesting and pruning is very manageable. They have bright green leaves and fragrant white flowers that make these trees great for landscaping too.

Plus, Santa Rosa Plum trees are self-fertile, meaning you can plant just one, and they only need 300 chill hours to produce fruit. These trees grow fast and can grow in many different types of soil.

Santa Rosa plums are medium to large sized fruits that are filled with juice. They ripen in mid-summer but continue to ripen off the tree, making harvesting a lot easier.

Other Common Names: Japanese Plum

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall by 15-20 ft wide

Season: Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

Table Comparing Central Texas Tree Varieties

Here is a detailed table comparing the variety, description, growing zones, and average size at maturity of each tree, providing a helpful overview for anyone interested in planting trees in Central Texas.

VarietyDescriptionGrowing ZonesAverage Size at Maturity
Mexican-BuckeyeNative to Texas, thrives in limestone soil. Dark green leaves turn bright yellow in fall, pink flowers in spring, produces lobe-shaped fruits.8-1120 ft tall, 10 ft wide
Jerusalem ThornNative to Texas. Long, elegant branches with light green leaves, young twigs turn brown and thorny. Yellow flowers bloom in spring or early summer rain.8-1120 ft tall, 25 ft wide
Texas Mountain LaurelNative to Texas, thrives in limestone soil. Evergreen tree, produces large, lilac-blue flowers with grape scent in spring.7-1015-25 ft tall, 8-10 ft wide
American Witch HazelMedicinal use, bushy shape, round green leaves turn golden yellow in fall. Yellow-orange flowers bloom after leaves drop in mid-fall.3-820 ft tall, 20 ft wide
Black WalnutLow-maintenance, large shade tree. Leaves turn yellow-orange in fall, fragrant wood used for smoking meats and furniture making. Produces lots of nuts annually.4-970-100 ft tall, 50-80 ft wide
LeatherwoodPhases of beauty throughout the year, from flowers to fall foliage. Native to southeastern U.S., loves moist, loamy soil. White, starburst-like flowers attract pollinators.5-118-30 ft tall, 10-15 ft wide
Lacey OakNative to Edwards Plateau in western TX, thrives in limestone soil. Bluish-green leaves, distinct from other oak trees, produce acorns in fall.7-940-50 ft tall, 20-30 ft wide
Red Haven Peach TreePopular variety, self-fertile, adaptable to different soil types. Bright green leaves, pink spring blossoms, produces juicy fruits in late summer.5-912-15 ft tall, 10-12 ft wide
Texas PersimmonNative Texas fruit tree, heat-tolerant, adaptable to different soil types. White spring flowers, produces blackish-purple, sweet, juicy fruits in fall.4-1035-60 ft tall, 25-35 ft wide
Loblolly PineFundamental in southeastern ecosystem, attracts pollinators like butterflies. Fast-growing, adapts to many types of soil. Can be used for natural fencing.6-960-90 ft tall, 25-35 ft wide
Blackjack OakCommon in central and eastern TX, grows on dry, sandy soil. Red-orange flowers, dark green leaves turn rust-colored in fall. Dark gray bark cracks in a checkerboard design.5-940-60 ft tall, 30 ft wide
Santa Rosa Plum TreeGrows well across the U.S., suitable for smaller gardens. Rounded canopy, bright green leaves, fragrant white flowers. Self-fertile, produces juicy fruits in mid-summer.5-915-20 ft tall, 15-20 ft wide

Let’s Get Gardening

This list is only a glimpse at the options you have for trees to plant in central TX, but I hope it gives you inspiration to get started!

There’s much more to learn regarding trees of central TX and Texas A&M University has many great resources to use. Check out their Texas TreeID page for full lists of native species, how to grow, and things to look out for.

Whether you want to grow Central Texas trees for harvests of fresh fruit, for shade in your yard, for more flowers on your land, or simply to diversify your space- you have many options! The best decision is just to get started. Happy planting!

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Peyton Warmack-Chipman

Environmental Politics & Permaculture Enthusiast

Peyton considers trees not just as plants that provide shade or yummy fruits, but as necessary for a healthy life and community. Peyton has done most of her research on environmental politics, but recently has shifted her focus towards actual agricultural practices, learning about ideas like agroforestry, food forests, and permaculture gardening. She's most often in the kitchen whipping something up, but otherwise can be found on long bike rides or doing research.

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