En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - September 26, 2007

From: Buda, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Danger of lichens damaging trees
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My mom lives east of Buda, Texas where she has planted many different kinds of trees, which are all over 10 years old. Now, they all have a moss or lichen growing on the bark of the trees. She is worried that this moss or lichen will eventually harm or kill the tree. So, she would like to know if there is something to use to stop this growth on the trees.

ANSWER:

Check out this excellent link from the Royal Horticultural Society on lichens and moss on the bark of trees. Briefly, it points out that lichens and moss are non-parasitic and will not injure the plants on which they grow; however, they may be an indication of trees that have been neglected. They can be controlled to a certain extent by improving air circulation by pruning out overcrowded branches.

No doubt all the (unusual) rain we have had in Texas this year has at least contributed to this sudden upswing in the lichen population. However, as pointed out above, good plant vigor is the best defense against lichens. There are no pesticides recommended for control of lichens, and it is not recommended that they be considered, as they will more likely damage the desirable vegetation than otherwise.

Incidentally, we found another very interesting website called "General Information About Lichens and Pollution." This has more information on lichens, but adds that it has been noted by scientists that the presence of lichens may indicate that the air quality in the area is good. It's not that the lichens have anything to do with making the air cleaner, it's just that they don't thrive where the air is very polluted. So, if it's any comfort, the trees you are concerned about may be telling you that the air quality around your area is acceptable, at least to lichens.

 

More Trees Questions

Failure to thrive of Texas Mountain Laurel in Austin
May 02, 2010 - I have an adult (over 25 years?, 20 feet tall?) Mountain Laurel next to my house in Austin. The winter of 2009/10 it lost most of its leaves. It did bloom and leaf out this Spring--not vigorous espec...
view the full question and answer

Season to plant Pacific Wax Myrtle from Fallbrook CA
July 25, 2013 - Would like to know which season would be the best to plant Pacific Wax Myrtle in Fallbrook, CA area? I presently have invading bamboo, which I want to get rid of. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Small tree for Houston
October 27, 2010 - I want to plant a tree southwest of my one-story house. The area is 25 feet wide, from the house to the power line. Desirable qualities include being a Texas native, deciduous, drought tolerant, and h...
view the full question and answer

Trimming oaks and elms from New Braunfels TX
June 20, 2012 - I would like to trim my live oaks and elm trees at the same time, if possible. I think they are American Elms. When is the best time to do this and avoid oak wilt and Dutch elm disease? Should all c...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Trees for New Jersey
March 02, 2011 - My neighbor elevated a row of white pine between our houses at least 20 feet high leaving me with NO privacy and a row of ugly lollipops. What trees can I plant that will be fast growing and deer resi...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center