Parsley Hawthorn (Crataegus marshallii)  This tree is a relative to the rose; and like the rose, it has flowers, thorns, red hips or berries, and loses its leaves in the fall. The leaves are a bright clear shade of green and have a shape that resembles that of the common herb plant we know as parsley. In springtime, bunches of tiny white fragrant blooms appear. By fall, beautiful red berries cover the tree. The berries are loved by Houston wildlife. Also in the fall, the leaves turn a golden color, which helps show off the red berries. The Parsley Hawthorn grows up to twenty feet tall, and likes part shade or even full shade. When you visit the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, look for these plants on the right of the driveway.
ParsleyHawthorn Plants  
American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)  This 3-4 foot shrub has arching branches with bright green oval leaves with serrated edges. It is best known for the berries it produces along its stems in clusters from the small light pink flowers that bloom in June. These berries mature into a luscious pinkish-purple color that is very attractive to birds. These berries stay on the branches after the leaves drop in the fall giving a great fall show. Beautyberry likes to be in shade or partial shade so it is well suited as an understory plant here. Beautyberry Plants
Two-wing Silverbell (Halesia diptera)  Even if it does not snow often in Houston, the snow white flowers of this tree will help you imagine snow in the spring. White buds, in the shape of water droplets, hang down on slender stems and slowly open into inch-long bells with four petals each. This understory tree grows up to thirty feet fall in sun or shaded areas. The white flowers are fragrant enough to attract hummingbirds. Look for these trees on the right of the driveway as you enter the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Snowdrop Plants
Sweet Bay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)  A smaller, more ornamental type of magnolia with smaller and lighter green leaves. Blooms are smaller than the regular magnolia as well, but still creamy white to yellow in color, and have the same vanilla-lemon fragrance. Since the branching is more open, light is able to reach the ground allowing other plants to grow below. Sweet Bays drop some leaves in the spring, but are mostly evergreen. Trees will reach about 25 feet when fully grown. SweetBayMagnolia Plants
Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)  The thousands of tiny pink or white springtime flowers and heart-shaped leaves for the summer help make this one of our most beautiful native trees. Small red flower buds often appear right on the main tree trunk, and all the way down the branch to the tips. This tree is a tough native tree that is beautiful and grows easily with few pests or problems. This understory tree grows to forty feet tall in the sun or partial shade. Many examples of this tree can be seen throughout the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center preserve.
Redbud Plants
Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora)  Well known in the Texas Hill Country for its spectacular fragrance, this small tree also does pretty well in the Houston area. It tolerates most soils, but needs good drainage. Does best in full sun where it will very slowly grow into a small tree. It is evergreen with dark green glossy leaves, large purple clusters of grape-soda scented blooms in late spring, and tan to gray seed pods bearing bright red seeds that are poisonous.
Sophora Plants
Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)  This fast growing vine holds its blue-green leaves year round, and blooms with slender trumpet-shaped flowers in the spring and summer. The lovely coral-red flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds. Look for this vine in the Wildlife Garden behind the Nature Center main building. coral honeysuckle Plants
Coral Bean (Erythrina herbacea)  This is an interesting, dense, thorny shrub with light green leaves that are broad at the base and taper at the tips to a point. Spikes of red flowers appear in April with the lower flowers opening first and fading as the upper flowers open. Flowers, pollinated by migrated hummingbirds, then produce seedpods with bright red seeds that resemble beans. Mature height in our area is about 10 feet. Other species of this plant are grown in Mexico for coffee and cocoa, and the seeds are strung in necklaces.
Coralbean Plants
Southern Wax-Myrtle (Myrica cerifera)  Here’s a tough, evergreen tree whose main attraction is the shiny, fragrant leaves. The waxy berries on female plants which give the tree its common name are used to make bayberry candles. The tree, growing to forty feet tall in sun or partial shade, having multiple stems, is very attractive to birds, who eat the fruits and hide in the dense foliage. The tree grows well in very dry soils. Several fine specimens of this tree can be found near the Nature Center main building. WaxMyrtle Plants
Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)  This is a very common plant in and around Houston. It is evergreen, likes full sun, and will reach 25 feet at maturity. Females produce red berries in the fall. The small, dark green leaves and interesting twists and turns of its branches lend the Yaupon to being trimmed and shaped in lots of different ways. The berries are good for attracting birds, and the dense branching makes it good for a nest building site too.
YauponHolly Plants
Sweetspire (Itea virginiana)  This native is known by its fragrant, slender, white, tassel-like blossoms in late spring and summer. The plant is a slender branching shrub that is somewhat weeping in form. Foliage turn deep red to purple in the fall and will persist until pushed off by spring growth of new, green leaves. The word Itea is Greek for “willow” and so it was named for its similar form. Generally found as a singular understory plant, but when found in masses has a spectacular show when in bloom. Sweetspire Plants
Swamp Cyrilla (Cyrilla racemiflora)  As indicated by the common name, this shrub or small tree likes to have wet, swampy conditions to live in. The oval leaves are often clustered at the end of the branches, and it is mostly evergreen. Perfect little white flowers are produced all over long slender stalks that peek out from under the base of the leaves. The small flowers produce lots of nectar that attracts bees and other nectar loving insects. SwampCyrilla Plants
Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica)  A Texas perennial for moist, acidic soils in shady areas. Plants will grow about 1 to 2 feet in height over the season and bloom in late spring and early summer. Red flowers are borne on a spike and open at different times revealing a creamy yellow throat. Dark green, glossy leaves die back in the fall and winter. Spigelia Plants