Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Plants to Plant: Texas Wild Olive/Cordia boissieri

Texas Wild Olive is pretty drought tolerant but you wouldn’t know think it by looking at those lush leaves. This little tree is a fast grower and wants to be as wide as it is tall, about 15'. I prune mine up to reveal more of the multi-trunks. The pruning of the branches is tricky since it tends to fork with three stems at the same point.

This tree is not indigenous to Houston—it hails from South Texas some 600 miles away. But when I plant something from further down the migration pathway, I like to think that some critter gets to enjoy the last Texas Wild Olive on the way to Canada.

I have heard that to attract hummingbirds, one should plant flowers in order of their preference from red (the highest) through oranges and yellows to White (the least preferred). But get this: I see hummingbirds getting into the Texas Wild Olive flowers before the sun comes up. At that time, white is the only color that stands out. I have also seen a sphinx moth visiting the tree at the same time as a hummingbird, and you can’t really get them mixed up.
Black swallowtails are the butterfly that seems to like Texas Wild Olive best.

There is a green olive-sized fruit that never seems to get eaten. Certainly not by me, as I’ve heard it’s inedible. I am a big fan of weird fruit, but maybe in this case ‘inedible’ is a nice way of saying poisonous.

Hardly any cons...
I only want to criticize this tree when it molts in March while everything else is springing forth with fresh vitality. The Texas Wild Olive just stands there with spotty brown and yellow leaves and looks like crap.
Also, Texas Wild Olive has scentless flowers which are just a missed opportunity. The white flowers of the world have a monopoly on the best floral odors: magnolias, butterfly ginger, crinums, natal plum, gardenias, jasmine…

One last thing: I planted my Texas Wild Olive to commemorate a wedding. Ms Alex, this is what has become of the nursery gift certificate you gave me for hosting your shower!

1 comment:

Mary Beth said...

I would have thought Houston received too much rain for a Wild Olive - and am so happy to see that's not the case. I hail from Deep South Texas and it's one of my top 5 native trees! You didn't mention its trunk - I just love its gnarly trunk!