bostedo

Any luck with goldenball leadtree in north Texas?

bostedo
7 years ago

Does anyone have any experience with goldenball leadtree (leucaena retusa) as far north as DFW? Appears it should do fine here, but figure there must be some reasons for not seeing them used more in the area.

Here is a link that might be useful: Goldenball leadtree at wildflower.org

Comments (39)

  • sabalmatt_tejas
    10 months ago

    I grow GLB trees in my Dallas garden and in San Marcos. They have thrived. I found w/ less water they grow slower, but support themselves better. If you cut off the forming seed pods after flowering, they will keep reblooming. They are fully cold hardy in N Tx.

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    Best Answer
  • freshair2townsquare
    7 years ago

    I found one at Marshall Grain in G'vine, and it looked pretty puny. The wildflower site mentions brittle branches that require pruning, so that may be a problem. Its on the plant list for this weekend's sale at the Discovery Gardens.

    But I have no personal experience.

  • Tayinnawin_Nell
    7 years ago

    There is a very successful specimen at the A&M research facility at Coit & George Bush Turnpike, unless it was ripped out when they demolished their community garden and demo garden.

    The reason you never see any is because they are relatively unknown - which is a shame because they are great trees. You can special order one from Shades of Green. They are your best bet for more unique TX natives, such as Mexican Buckeye (got mine there!) and Texas Kidneywood (ditto x 2). All 3 of these trees grow surprisingly well from seed.

  • bostedo
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Thanks for the affirmations. I've found info on this tree to be a bit muddled - even wildflower.org has it listed as evergreen; don't believe this is the case (at least north of San Antonio), but would be glad if it were true. Just cast doubt on whether the info was solid enough to believe the tree can be reliable this far north of its native range. Seems like a nice flowering Texas native and am looking forward to trying it here.

    I've observed that if you want a source for a hard-to-find plant, then buy the seeds. Within days of receiving the seeds, either someone will tell you where you can buy the plant or you'll stumble across it. Thanks to both of you for validating this once again. I finally resorted to starting seeds last week and hope to plant this fall - nice to know of these other options if I managed to kill it over the summer. I'm assuming the Discovery Gardens sale is an annual event and will check out Shades of Green. Thanks!

  • lucas_tx_gw
    7 years ago

    I put one in last fall but it was tiny and my dogs dug it up :-(

    I have a decent sized 5 gal one now getting ready to plant. Got it at the Heard Sale. They also always have them at the Wildflower Center sale in Austin. Kind of a hike but well worth it. A lot of times I take off on Friday and go on the members only day but this year had to restrain myself due to time constraints, busy redoing the kitchen. So I got my fill of plants at the Heard instead.

    Anyway I do know of others who have grown them successfully in DFW.

    Do you belong to your Native Plant Society of TX chapter? If not, check out NPSOT.org. You can meet a lot of people who can help you with advice, seeds, cuttings, etc. as you add to your native collection.

  • Tayinnawin_Nell
    7 years ago

    You may already know all of this; I don't like to presume anything - BUT - I neglected to mention in my original post: Lady Bird Wildflower does mention that the stems are brittle - yes this is true..."kinda-sorta". The branches of the GLB tree are reliably stout. However, was with most trees/shrubs in the legume family - to which the golden leadball tree belongs - the flower stem can be somewhat brittle. This is mostly for the trees, such as the TX Kidneywood, where the seeds don't burst open and rely more on wind/animals/etc to spread the dried seeds. In my non-expert experience/observation, the golden leadball seed pods are attached to pretty strong stems on more mature trees. The pods want to hang on to their lofty stem so when they burst open, they can fling farther. To me, it's logical that the less mature trees would have more brittle stems, simply because the younger trees cannot support the weight of the seed pods - which can be 4" or so, and as fat as a healthy pencil.

    I share this because I wouldn't want you to be discouraged from taking a shot at growing this tree. There should really be more of these grown in our area.

    The bonus to this tree is that since they are of the pea family and fix the nitrogen in the soil. So if you plant native grasses in the same area, you get bonus soil nutrient. I saw a gorgeous grouping of TX Kidneywood and Lindheimer Muhly (ornamental grass) - a really smart symbiotic planting.

  • bostedo
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    lucas_tx: Good to know of the additional native plant sale options; have not managed to be available for any (so far) this year, but will be looking out in 2014. Not a NPSOT member, but have appreciated info they've made available. Don't know yet if I'll join, but it's on a very short list of considerations. Oh... and very nice of you to buy your dogs a bigger tree ;-)

    Tayinnawin_Nell: Thanks for the additional details on the seeds and "brittleness". Doesn't scare me off, especially in the back-yard spot we're considering. One of the other reported benefits that seems good fit for this location is that the light shade from the open canopy offers a bit more flexibility in what can be grown underneath it. Glad to know it does well for you in zone 7, so am looking forward to getting one started in 8a.

  • denisew
    7 years ago

    I know they sell them at one of the local nurseries in the Allen area and the man who runs the place has one in his yard. It is worth a try.

  • blakrab Centex
    6 years ago

    Good question. I know they grow OK in Austin...
    But not sure about north of there?

    Here is a link that might be useful: Goldenball Lead Tree (Leucaena retusa)

  • Scott Z8 CenTex
    6 years ago

    I know Round Rock (just north of Austin) is considered Central Texas, but thought you'd like to see the one we planted about a year ago. It is a little hard to see but this is about 7-8 ft tall already. It was very robust from day 1, and has easily doubled in size during that time, and did in fact lose its leaves this winter. One sizable 'stem' (small branch) broke off due to some wind I think, But it is a fun tree - our family calls it the Dr. Seuss tree because of the yellow balls it gets when it blooms. They are very rare in residential landscapes here; we wanted something unique. Strongly encourage you to give it a try.

  • bostedo
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    The Wasowskis (Native Texas Plants) said they're known to survive as far north as McKinney and might make it to the Red River. Noticed Temple College removed theirs in 2012 without explanation, so still suspect there is some reason we do not see more of these around the state - though I'll continue to try to find out.

    Two of three seeds I planted came up, so good germination rate. One died when I forgot to water it before heading out of town. The other is still too small to pit against the slugs, rabbits, and squirrels; so will keep it in a container through this summer while keeping an eye out for a bigger plant at the local nurseries.

  • lucas_tx_gw
    6 years ago

    Yeah, speaking of rabbits....after the dogs dug up the first one, the rabbits ate the top off the replacement. I have it caged now but after this tough winter, not sure if it will come back again or not.

  • Scott Z8 CenTex
    6 years ago

    Here is how our GLB tree looks now. There are a bunch of new branches/trunks coming up from the base since a major branch snapped off last year - Not sure if I'll trim those or not. You can just see one of the balls blooming on top still. We had a couple of dozen of those on the tree over the spring.

  • roselee z8b S.W. Texas
    6 years ago

    JS, it's such a lovely tree and yours is looking GOOD! Thanks for the update, and I appreciated reading the all the comments about it.

    Incidentally, I'm very interested in another beautiful legume type tree that's growing at the edge of the church property. It was a fairly tall tree before the city cut in down last year to install a new telephone pole. Now it's come back multitrunked and so far about 8/10 ft tall. I think it's a Berlandier acacia and I'm trying to convince the grounds keeper not to cut it down, especially not until it produces seeds I can collect.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Berlandier acacia ...

    This post was edited by roselee on Tue, Jul 1, 14 at 13:31

  • bostedo
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    jscaldwell, Appreciate seeing how nice your tree looks leafed out. Hope our seed start will look as good in a few years - still only a bit over a foot tall 6 months after last photo, but at least starting to look more like a tree.

    roselee, Saw a common name for the Berlandier acacia is thornless catclaw. Do these not have thorns? Saw one photo that seemed to show they do, but not sure it was reliable. Have tried the hardier lower growing (and thornless) prairie acacia (Acacia angustissima) a couple times from seed, but between the slugs and my brown thumb, have not yet been able to get them past the seedling stage yet.

  • roselee z8b S.W. Texas
    6 years ago

    Bostedo, the acacia tree does not have thorns; not even the hint of a thorn! The stems and trunk are perfectly smooth. I took some photos this morning and will post them on another thread in hopes it can be positively identified.

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  • blakrab Centex
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    S of DFW in Waco at least, it seems to grow about a foot from seed the first year, and then like 5' the next! Similar to what jscaldwell observed in Round Rock. So, I think they're definitely worth a shot up in DFW too!

    I think they are just rarely seen anywhere because they are not well-known and sadly not carried in most nurseries...

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  • Scott Z8 CenTex
    4 years ago

    Don't worry bostedo, it will start growing quickly now I expect. I'll try to remember to post a new pic of ours after it finishes leafing out this spring. I'd guess it is about 12' - 13' tall now...and will probably put another foot or two on this year.

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  • bostedo
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hate to admit that dumb got the best of my GBL seedling. It had done well in the irrigated shade it was left in over vacation; but forgot to consider how much the sun had dropped while we were gone when I placed it back in its southern exposure. Instead of shade from the eves, it got full sun... against a brick wall. The leaves were toast by the time I caught the mistake a day or two later. Had hoped it would recover in the spring, but the shock of the rapid change proved lethal.

    Went to look for a replacement at a local nursery that occasionally stocks GBL (Rohde's), but came home with a Kidneywood instead... go figure. Will make another attempt with the seeds I have left.

  • Scott Z8 CenTex
    4 years ago

    I have some seeds too, if you would like to try some of mine.


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  • bostedo
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    jscaldwell, Appreciate the offer - should know in a few weeks if any seeds I have left are still viable.

  • Scott Z8 CenTex
    3 years ago

    Here is a new shot of our Goldenball Leadtree. Kind of hard to see with the other stuff around it, but you can see how big it is now...the top almost reaches the eaves of our 2nd story house.

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  • bostedo
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    Very nice! Is the crown naturally that upright or have you pruned it that way? Had thought the crown would become too broad for one small opening we have left, so curious if they can be kept narrow with pruning and still look right as they age.

    I never planted my remaining seeds because I gave the larger spot where I had planned to place it to an unexpected and sentimental gift tree. Unfortunately the sunny tree spots are pretty much used up on our lot until something else is taken out.

  • Scott Z8 CenTex
    3 years ago

    I haven't pruned it much, but have taken off some lower branches that were kind of in the way there in the sitting area. Normally it would get somewhat wider than this, but not a lot. There are a couple of other trees around it and the house of course, so I think part of what is going on here is it's growing up to get sunlight and not branching out too much.

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  • bostedo
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    Thanks - noticed your shade situation and also wondered if that could be a factor in the upright growth. Just realized we may have a similar space to try.... if our neighbors' beautiful ever-enlarging pecan and oak trees don't put it into full shade first.

  • Scott Z8 CenTex
    3 years ago

    These things grow fairly fast, so you may have a chance to squeeze one in there. Worth a try, especially if you can start one from seed for 'free'.

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  • Lorie Whitaker
    10 months ago

    I went down to Austin and got mine. It's been doing ok through the hot summer but was on a drip watering system so it's pretty happy. The only issue I have is that it's about 5ft tall but the trunk is so thin it can't support itself much so I've staked it. I did get wonderful small balls on it at first but nothing since - probably because it's being watered on the regular. Anyone know about the trunk diameter? How to make it thicker so I can unstake it?

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  • bostedo
    Original Author
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    Suspect GBLT and Texas Kidneywood (TK) both tend to grow more "floppy" in north Texas due to the richer clay and more moisture than they experience in their native ranges. Some of the trunks on our kidneywood are just barely able to support the weight of the substantial flowering branch growth without staking after four years. Am hoping it can finally be pruned into more of tree shape next year rather than the large mounding shrub is has wanted to be so far.

    A gift ginkgo and the TK went into spots I had considered for GBLT, but still keeping it on the list of possibilities as things change.

  • blakrab Centex
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    Here's a pic of my 5-yo Goldenball Leadtree. It's probably about 20' tall now! And it seems to be growing just fine upright with no floppiness? I did originally plant it by a fence for some wind sheltering...but maybe the lower blockage of sunlight forced it to grow up taller before branching out more, too?

    Anyhow, I haven't found its branches to be noticeably "brittle" - and it has in fact survived this whole time without any branch breakages. Whereas a nearby Vitex and larger Desert Willow both had some large branches break off (due to rain?).

    So, I would definitely give this beautiful, native princess a shot! It's such an interesting, ornamental specimen tree that I'm really glad I got on-site...and always thoroughly enjoy it whenever I pass by! Annndd...it's probably nowhere near as fragile or floppy as has been purported online!

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  • f1999308
    last month

    Howdy folks,

    I'd like to revive this discussion and check how your goldenball lead trees were doing, especially if you are in the DFW area. Several descriptions online of the bloom period mention spring, summer, and fall, especially after rains. Would you say that is accurate? Do the blooms stay on a good while after rains? Are the blooms eye-catching?


    Thanks!

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  • bostedo
    Original Author
    last month

    Sorry, I can't comment because we've not yet planted goldenball lead tree or seen any used in our far north Dallas area. Am sure there are a few around here somewhere. Couldn't find the one at the local Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center during a quick look while at a class there - could have missed it, but good chance it fell victim to the expansion and other changes they've recently made.

    Had considered using GBLT as a smaller replacement for the large Chinese pistache lost in last year's wind storm. But decided to go evergreen with Tx mtn laurel instead. Still at the top of the short list to try as other space becomes available.

  • f1999308
    last month

    I see. The Dallas arboretum has one and they say it does well here, so I guess I'll give it a try... I was just curious about the blooms.

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  • roselee z8b S.W. Texas
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I've grown it and the blooms were definitely eye catching! Nor sure how long they lasted after a rain, but I don't remember them being particularly damaged by a shower.

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  • f1999308
    last month

    Thanks roselee. Did the blooms last from spring to fall? I see you're further south than I am, so it may exhibit different bloom times here in ...

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  • roselee z8b S.W. Texas
    last month
    last modified: last month

    It bloomed repeatedly is all I remember. The above is the only photo I could find of my tree.

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  • Lorie Whitaker
    last month

    I had planted one in 2019 in April. It did fine, although was getting really tall but the trunk wasn't getting much stronger... then it froze over the winter. I feel really bad about that! It had wonderful blooms on it frequently, as we got tons of rain that summer. I got mine from Far South Nursery in Austin - went back a few months ago and got another one. I haven't planted it yet, but it seems to be doing great in the pot (no, really!). I plan to plant it soon. I did get a smaller one than last time, in the hopes it'll establish itself better than the other one.

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  • roselee z8b S.W. Texas
    last month

    Lorie, was the tree that froze planted in Austin?

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  • Lorie Whitaker
    last month

    Ah no. I’m located in irving. I had trouble finding a nursery up here that had the plant so I got them down there.

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  • f1999308
    last month

    Wow Lorie, sorry about your tree. Hope your new tree does better! Good input.