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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.

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

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Saturday - May 26, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Leaf spot as indicator of Oak Wilt Disease
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I live close to the Wilflower Center. I have two trees in my front yard which are just now showing brown spots on the leaves. I fear this may be oak wilt. Would it be possible for me to bring some sample leaves to the Wildflower Center and have someone tell me if my trees have oak wilt?

ANSWER:

Browns leaf spot are not normally indicative of Oak Wilt Disease. There are, however, any number of fungi, viruses, insects and other causes which produce spotting of oak leaves. Close examination of the leaves would be required to make a certain diagnosis of the cause. Many fungal diseases are more prevalent in wet years like we are having now. Happily, most oak leaf diseases do not cause serious harm to the trees they attack, though some defoliation may occur.

The Texas Oak Wilt Information Partnership website, which was built and is maintained by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and partner organizations, has much more information about Oak Wilt Disease, including information on visual identification.

In the interest of maintaining the good health of the trees at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we would prefer that you do not bring diseased or pest infested plant material to us. A better solution is to send sharply-focused, close-up digital images of the affected plant parts via email to id@smartyplants.org. If we cannot identify the cause of the problem, you may contact your County Extension Service agent, or send a plant sample to the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Texas A&M.

 

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