Along the Natchez Trace

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Trees... Texas and Family

Thanks y'all for helping me identify these Texas trees.  I probably wouldn't have much trouble knowing what tree I was looking at in Ohio, but it takes me a while to ID everything anywhere else.

The good thing about trees is...  they stay put.  Nope, you won't find one of these guys flying away... or slipping around out of your vision.  They don't have migration patterns... While there are some male and female trees, I can usually at least come up with a name.

I don't know how many folks use it, but the County Extension Agent is usually a very good resource to help in identifying plants of any kind.  They are usually affiliated with some college or university and do everything from help with agriculture, to how to can foods in your home kitchen to working with kids on 4H projects.  My own kids belonged to 4H clubs when they were young.  When I wanted to sell processed foods at our local Farmer's Market in Ohio, I took a week-long class at Ohio State University in order to get certified and licensed.

So it just comes natural to me to seek out whatever resource is available wherever we are for answers to questions like "What shrubs can we plant that deer won't eat?, or...  in this case...

What the heck is this tree?

I took my samples in to the Hood Co. Extension office this morning and met the local agent.  He didn't know the answer, but he got out his books and found my trees.
Those of you who told me this could be a WESTERN SOAPBERRY were exactly right!  

It is a native Texas tree that blooms in spring and early summer, having creamy white blossoms.
The fruit...
 which are translucent yellow are poisonous.

This tree is also known by the names Wild Chinatree, Wild Chinaberry, Soapberry, Indian Soap Plant and Jaboncillo.

So far, the only one I've noticed is on the county road about 3/4 mile from Celeste's house.  

Another tree I've noticed...  especially now that the leaves are gone from most of the other trees is this....
(That's a big raindrop in the center of the picture)
The leaves are all gone now, but with the green cedars that are nearby, it really stands out...
When I first noticed it I thought it was a Mountain Ash, but almost immediately ruled that out...
So this went along with me to the County Extension agent this morning.

The agent's secretary knew this tree and that made looking up the specs much easier.  It's actually in the HOLLY family, although it does lose it's leaves each winter.  

Although its scientific name is Ilex decidua, it is known at Possum Haw, Bearberry, Deciduous Holly and Winterberry to list a few of the common names.

I'm told that folks often use it in wreaths and other decorations during the winter.  I can certainly see why as it's such a bright, splash of color in an otherwise sepia-like landscape.

I have always been interested in learning what all is around us, and am happy that there are folks who are willing to share their knowledge.

And about that family tree....
I got this photo as a text message on our phone.  
This is Evie, our great-granddaughter...
wearing her Texas Longhorn jammies and riding her Christmas pony.  She may live in New York, but she looks like she could be a native Texan wildflower to me!

That's All For Today!


  1. What an adorable little great granddaughter. She does look like a little cowgirl.

    We are lucky to have a great extension office in Eugene and I have used them more than once. Nice that you got an ID on your trees.

  2. aw.... lttle Evie... how adorable is she! haaha on a horse in her longhorn jams... Bevo is the Longhorn mascot.

    The trees are beautiful - we just called it a chinaberry tree ... it's official name is Western Soapberry... wow... after all these years... I just remember that smell - made great mudpie berries...

    I'm waiting on my little g'son Charlie to make his debut ...

    I've been reading your blog for quite a while but have been traveling and commenting is a pain on my phone. Kinda fun commenting more now. I'm in a motel room for at least a month! waiting on Charlie! ;)

  3. Evie is so cute! Your tree post is very interesting.

  4. Your great granddaugter is a cutie! Ride em cowgirl! Thanks for the info on the trees.

  5. Great, a family tree often begins with the current generation and works backwards)
    I even wrote a expository essay
    about it.