A walk along the Spring Creek Greenway trails may one day yield more than just fresh air. Last summer, Commissioner Cagle began a new initiative aimed at restoring native fruit and nut trees along the greenway for families and wildlife to enjoy.
“Most residents don’t get a chance to enjoy fruit and nuts directly from the tree,” said Commissioner R. Jack Cagle. “Best of all, these varieties are all native to the south, so they need little maintenance once established.”
In all, Precinct 4 staff and volunteers planted 185 trees last winter, including pecan, walnut, Mexican plum, persimmon, and pawpaw. Although the pawpaw tree is a Texas native, stores usually don’t carry their fruit because it ripens quickly and bruises easily. Despite the fruit’s fragility, many Texans treasure the fruit for its sweet flavor and custard-like texture. The fruit trees also produce flowering, fragrant blooms that can attract pollinators.
According to Mercer arborist Laura Carlton, the trees grown from grafted material produce earlier than trees grown from seedlings. Some of the grafted fruit trees could produce fruit within three years while some of the grafted pecan trees could produce nuts within five years, she said. On average, pecan trees grown from seedlings produce nuts in 15 and 20 years while fruit trees produce fruit in 3 to 10 years.
“There are pros and cons to both seedlings and grafted trees,” said Carlton. “While the grafted trees are more efficient, they require higher maintenance and are less likely to become established. Matching site and application to this project is one of my goals for the public to enjoy.”