Reid's Top Ten Trees and Shrubs

Texas is blessed with a wide range of trees and shrubs. So to narrow it down to 10 of each is hard, to say the least! To make matters worse, how do you define a tree or shrub? How do you distinguish a shrub from a woody perennial? One friend of mine said if you can walk under it, it's a tree! If you must walk around it, it's a shrub!

There are some plants that are hard to class (example: Evergreen Sumac, Rhus virens, a wonderful plant 8 - 12 feet tall). Most call it a small ornamental tree. Although I have seen them 12 feet and taller, most are in a 5 - 8 foot range in a natural setting of low water and poor soil. If you put this in your yard and want a large shrub, water it and improve the soil. I bet you will have a tree in a few years! Then there is Mexican Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa) one of the best tree/shrubs on the market. Trimmed (or broke down by cows if your fence is down), it will make a great multi-trunk shrub 6 - 8 feet tall. Keeping it trimmed to 2 or 3 trunks will make it a tree up to 30 feet tall!

Then there are the shrubs like Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii). In the Rio Grande valley it is a 9 foot tall evergreen but here in Central Texas, 3 foot x 3 foot is more the normal size. So is it a shrub? Yes, but come winter it dies down to the ground and returns every year like a good perennial should. So is it a perennial?

The one other factor to remember about all plants is that they don't read the books. So, if the book says 6 feet tall and your plants grow to 10 feet tall.....Oh Well !!!

The list of Top Ten Trees and Shrubs is an ever-changing list as new plants are discovered and tested or my mood changes! So, just ask me tomorrow and it might be a whole different list....or maybe not!



Common Name

Latin Name


Autumn Sage

Salvia greggii

2-3 ft.

American Beautyberry

Callicarpa americana

4-6 ft.


Berberis trifoliolata

3-6 ft.

Flame Acanthus

Anisacanthus quadrifious var. wrightii

3-4 ft.


Leucophyllum frutescens

5-8 ft.

White Bush Honeysuckle

Lonicera albiflora

4-8 ft.


Eysenhardtia texana

6-8 ft.

Aromatic Sumac

Rhus aromatica

4-8 ft.


Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

2-4 ft.

Dwarf Wax Myrtle

Myrica pusilla

3-6 ft.



Common Name

Latin Name


Lacey Oak

Quercus glaucoides = Q. laceyi

20-30 ft.

Mexican Plum

Prunus mexicana

12-25 ft.

Desert Willow

Chilopsis linearis

8-15 ft.

Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum

Viburnum rufidulum

12-15 ft.

Texas Redbud

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

8-15 ft.

Texas Persimmon

Diospyros texana

8-15 ft.

Texas Ash

Fraxinus texensis

30-40 ft.

Bur Oak

Quercus macrocarpa

60-80 ft.

Escarpment Black Cherry

Prunus serotina var. eximia

50-80 ft.

Eve's Necklace

Sophora affinis

6-15 ft.


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