Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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 Trees Questions

Desert Willow Roots from Lubbock, TX
September 18, 2014 - I have a very, very happy Desert Willow that has grown larger than we expected and is probably too close to the house. Do I need to worry about a cracked foundation or pipe problems? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Tree for caliche soil in Cochise County, Arizona
August 15, 2012 - What trees will thrive in areas of moderate caliche soil in southeast Arizona? My property is at 4,200 feet of elevation. Thanks for your help
view the full question and answer

Natural privacy hedge for Kyle Texas
January 06, 2014 - I am looking to make a natural privacy screen in the Kyle Texas area. I am being pointed towards Leyland Cypress by some and told to shy away from this tree by others. I found Green Giant Arborvitae a...
view the full question and answer

Time to Plant Trees and Shrubs in the Dallas Area
February 13, 2015 - Is it OK to plant evergreen shrubs-trees in January or February in the Dallas, Texas area?
view the full question and answer

Holly-like groundcover under live oak tree.
June 21, 2012 - I have looked and looked and cannot identify a wonderful groundcover holly growing in the shade beneath my 100 year old Live Oak here in Austin. I have looked up every possible Ilex variety and am stu...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.