En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - December 12, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Galls on live oak tree in Austin
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Austin, and have a 13 year old live oak in my yard. It has developed little spheres, kind of like green peas, on the underside of the leaves. What is it? Is it harmful? Is there something I should be doing to get rid of them?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is going to refer you to the answer to a recent question from someone else in Central Texas with the same, or at least similar, problem.  The little spheres are galls made by the trees tissue in response to the developing larva of an insect feeding on the leaf.  The galls are rarely injurious to the tree and there isn't really a method (such as spraying) to kill the larva inside the gall.  Here is a copy of the answer:

"They are galls caused by the trees reaction to insects laying their eggs in the leaves. The tree's tissues expand and grow around the developing egg and the resulting larvae that feeds on the plant tissue before emerging as an adult.  The galls may not be aesthetically attractive but they are not especially deleterious to the trees.  There is really no way to "treat" them since the insect is safely ensconced within the gall and won't be reached by any insecticide.  Here are some articles related to galls from Texas A&M Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab and from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.  Here are photos of oak leaf galls caused by Belonocnema tratae and more photos of oak galls from the Central Texas Gardener blog."

 

More Pests Questions

Leaves wrinkling on Tecoma stans from San Antonio TX
August 16, 2013 - My two year old esperanza (planted in the ground) froze back last winter, came back from the roots & has been doing well all summer. Recently one branch has leaves that are nice & green but very wrin...
view the full question and answer

Will Canada geese eat Asclepias tuberosa from Cape May Court, NJ
May 20, 2014 - Will Canada geese eat my butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)? I know this plant is deer resistant. I really want to plant some on sandy bank near pond in my back yard, but I fear the geese will ...
view the full question and answer

Dealing with beetles feeding on cholla cactus
June 20, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Pants, I bought a Cylindropuntia imbricata from the Wildflower center and it was growing like crazy. I recently noticed a lot of beetles feeding on it. Some are black and some are gra...
view the full question and answer

Dealing with aphids on milkweed plants in Alloway, NJ.
July 11, 2012 - I planted milk weed for the Monarch butterfly. Every year it gets orange aphids that seem to suck out the juices and eventually kill the plant sooner than I like.
view the full question and answer

Carolina buckthorn and Neem Oil Spray Damage
April 27, 2015 - It's April, I have a Carolina buckthorn that seemed to be doing well, about 8 feet tall, about 2 years old in part shade. It was putting out new leaves about a month ago and seemed to have infestati...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center