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Ebenopsis ebano

Ebenopsis ebano
The zigzag pattern nicely contrasting light bark with dark leaves
Texas ebony
Ebenopsis ebano
Early March: it's alive!

Synonym(s) Pithecellobium flexicaule
Common name Texas ebony
Family fabaceae
Life cycle tree (Z9-10)
Flowers cream (spring-fall)
Size 25'
Light sun
Cultural notes well drained soil

Densely crowned deciduous tree, native to arid areas of southern Texas. The small leaflets are dark green, part of twice-pinnate leaves. Branches are spiny, and zig-zag at their nodes. Creamy white blooms appear in late spring through early fall, and are followed by brown seed pods. Reports of cold hardiness vary; most accounts say it shouldn't be hardy in our zone 8b garden, but I drew my inspiration to plant this tree from a nice specimen in Houston's Mercer Botanical Garden, which should have a similar climate to ours. So let's hope we can keep ours alive – so far so good: it lost its leaves after the severe freeze of January 2018, but new growth sprouted by early March. The species grows slowly, so in any case we'll have to wait a long time for it to be even a small shade tree. For most of 2018, our treelet just kind of sat there – not obviously unhappy, but not growing either. Finally in late summer, it put out a flush of fresh green leaves – still not reaching for the sky too much, but hopefully a sign that it has made peace with its new surroundings and is ready for some more action next year.

Texas ebony
Mid-September 2018 – a flush of new growth
Ebenopsis ebano
No leaf drop in the milder winter of 2019, but leaves were blotched with burgundy in March. I suspect they'll drop to make room for new green ones.
Texas ebony
Early September 2019 – densely covered in new leaves
Ebenopsis ebano
A growth spurt finally arrived in 2020, requiring some pruning to avoid injury to passers-by from the sharp spines.
Texas ebony
Nearly killed in megafreeze of February 2021 – just a tiny sprig returning near the base in early April...
Ebenopsis ebano
...turning into bushy growth by early May. But will it ever be a tree again?

In our garden, this plant grows in the following area: back fence border

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Last modified: May 08, 2021
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