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
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 Pests Questions

Aphids in pecan tree from Austin
July 14, 2012 - Last year at this time (midsummer) everything under the canopy of our 60+ year old pecan tree was covered with a sticky substance--plants, lawn furniture, concrete pool deck..Since we had never seen t...
view the full question and answer

Something eating leaves of Eastern Redbud in San Antonio
May 27, 2010 - I know you had this question a few years back but no answer. Something is eating the leaves of my Redbud (Eastern, I think. There are varying sizes of bites, but most leaves stripped, some to stem. Pl...
view the full question and answer

Georgia Monocots for Dodder Infested Location
September 02, 2015 - I have a 12'x12' area where we planted carrots, and we got a surprise - dodder! Next year we planted corn - no dodder! This year we planted cosmos, and behold, we had dodder. I understand monocot...
view the full question and answer

Why are there gnats in my houseplants?
July 22, 2009 - I have flying brown gnats in my house plants. Can you tell me why?
view the full question and answer

Bare spot in Prairie Phlox in Austin
February 25, 2009 - I have Prairie Phlox in my garden that I have had for about 4 to 6 years. I got the original plant from the NPSOT at their booth one year at the Wildflower center. It is really lovely in the spring wh...
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