Hackberry Emperor butterfly larvae feed off hackberry and sugarberry trees.

Q: Why are native trees important and which ones can I plant at home?

A: The last few years have taken a noticeable toll on our natural and home landscapes here in Houston. The cooler fall and winter months are the best time to replace trees that may have died from weather challenges and secondary diseases or insect problems.

Planting native trees is one of the best ways an individual can help to mitigate flooding. Trees contribute to flood prevention by slowing runoff and absorbing excess rainfall. In addition to flood mitigation, trees also lower the temperatures around them by releasing moisture into the air and providing much-needed shade from the Texas sun.

Native trees are some of the most beneficial because they are adapted to the climate in this region. Mighty oaks harbor native fauna and offer shelter for migrating birds; sugarberries are hosts to butterfly caterpillars; and Mexican plums, pecans and persimmons produce fruit for wild animals and people too! Hardy ironwood and hop hornbeam trees provide a great spot along trails to hang a hammock and read a book. Pines produce free garden mulch to protect plants. Maples and sweetgums yield compost ingredients when leaves fall from these deciduous trees. Redbuds and buckeyes are a source of nectar and pollen in early spring for bees and hummingbirds.

Do something great for us locally, and the planet, and please keep planting native trees!

Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Suzzanne Chapman
Author: Suzzanne ChapmanEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Suzzanne Chapman is the botanical collections curator at Mercer Botanic Gardens and promotes organic gardening, growing native plants, and protecting the environment. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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