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Monday - July 23, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Control of live oak suckers by cutting
Answered by: Barbara Medford


How do I control the Live Oak root suckers? At the moment we are cutting them as they come out of the ground.


You did not specify, but since you are in Austin, Texas, I would guess that your tree is Quercus fusiformis (plateau oak), the live oak native in your area or Quercus virginiana (live oak), the closely related species often planted in your area. Live oaks are native from Texas across the warmer parts of the Southeast.

You are probably doing the best thing in just clipping those little suckers off at the ground. They're unattractive and as time goes by, you could have a whole grove of teeny tiny live oak trees, which is probably not what you had in mind. And that could be a problem, too. In a wild, untended situation, this clonal method of reproduction could result in a grove of trees commonly referred to as a motte, with interlocked roots. Oak wilt, one of the biggest attackers of the live oak, can be spread through that root system. Protect your existing live oak by not pruning during the Spring and Fall, when the beetles that spread the fungus causing oak wilt are active. And prevent developing an "oak wilt center" by getting rid of those little sprouts.

Quercus fusiformis

Quercus virginiana



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