Well, the new house has a mystery tree. Our initial guess was some form of a broad leaved ligustrum. It appears to be evergreen - no leaves have been lost yet although the neighboring peaches have lost all their leaves in the past week, and the post oaks have lost almost all their leaves.

Height is a little over 12 ft. The leaves almost remind me of an apple - but they're glossy/waxy (unlike an apple).

The bushes in the background are small-leaved ligustrum ("privet" in the UK). Ligustrum is an invasive here in Texas — the bushes will be replaced in the next 6-12 months. The identification of this tree could seal its fate.

Spring Addenda: Flowers are white with five petals. They did not last long and unfortunately I did not get any photos. More like blossom than a ligustrum flower.

Click to enlarge
Overall photo of mystery tree Detail of leaves

  • Hmm.. I initially thought it was not a ligustrum, but on second thoughts, it could be Ligustrum lucidum. The leaves certainly look like that. Have you had a chance to see any flowers on yours to compare? I'm still not sure about the ligustrum link... the leaves are just way too spread apart. Nov 30, 2011 at 2:49
  • No, no flowers - but we only closed on the house about 10 days ago :-) The flowers in the photo of the Ligustrum lucidum are similar to the ones I remember on English privets - and would be a clincher if I saw them next year. The Ligustrum link was a suggestion by MrsWinwaed (who has done field research on ligustrum removal), although I'm not familiar with the large leaved varieties - only the small leaved privet type.
    – winwaed
    Nov 30, 2011 at 2:59
  • The tree looks very familiar though. I see it around here in some houses and the fruits look kind of round with a pouty ring on the bottom, not like a ligustrum berry Nov 30, 2011 at 3:02
  • It reminds me of the 'Happy Wanderer' (Hardenbergia violacea) we have growing on our fence, but the leaves of your tree are slightly wider and I suppose it's highly unlikely to be an Australian native growing in north America. Any idea what the flowers/nuts look like? Are the flowers pea-like?
    – Lisa
    Nov 30, 2011 at 5:38
  • We first sawe the house about 6 weeks ago, and we only bought it about 10 days ago - so, no, I don't know the flowers or fruit. Looking in books, another one I thought of was "Common Persimmon" but the bark isn't right.
    – winwaed
    Nov 30, 2011 at 13:00

1 Answer 1


This may not be the final final answer, but we've made progress and think it is a pear. Not a Bradford Pear (we'd know that one alas), but probably a fruiting variety. An Asian Pear is also a possibility. A fruiting pear would fit with the other plants the previous owner has planted (peaches and bananas) and general style.

The leaves are the right shape, color (including a thin light green line down the middle, and glossy upper surface), and the bark is correct for a young tree (which it is). The only thing would be that pears are deciduous so this one is slow losing its leaves and my evergreen assumption is probably wrong (and based on post oaks and peaches in the garden which have lost virtually all their leaves).

We would not be able to identify the variety until/if we get fruit. Neil Sperry ("Texas Gardening") describes a number of varieties and most require or prefer a pollinator. Hopefully the previous owner planted one of the few self pollinators...

Addenda (3rd April): The blossom have fallen and fruit are forming. Looks like it might indeed be pear. Our arborist came by and yes, definitely a pear!! It is possible the Bradford Pears on the street at the back are sufficient to pollinate it. We also have fire blight (apparently this spring is the worst he's seen it due to the mild winter). I'll post a "jeopardy" question about it next week after I get a chance to take a photo of the damage.

  • My first thought when I saw it was almonds. Some almonds do indeed have dark, wide leaves as in your second picture. But I was a bit hesitant because almonds are mostly found only in CA in the US... Jan 2, 2012 at 21:51
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    As an update, it is indeed deciduous. The leaves changed color in a distinctive fashion - starting at the edges and central line, and extending into the veins - ie. the veins would change before the bulk of the leaf.
    – winwaed
    Jan 3, 2012 at 16:01
  • Another one thrown into the mix is "persimmon". A friendly arborist has done work here for the previous owner and thinks it was persimmon. He is due to check in on our oaks in the next few weeks, so we'll probably get a definitive answer then. The thing is, the books list two types of persimmon, and it looks like it has the bark of one kind of persimmon and leaves of the other!
    – winwaed
    Mar 19, 2012 at 20:47

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