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?


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
2 ratings

Wednesday - September 19, 2007

From: austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Control of live oak root sprouts, or suckers, under tree
Answered by: Joe Marcus


Have live oak trees in clusters with circular beds surrounding in frontyard. Have been invaded by some type weed that looks a bit like holly. Woody stem a few inches high with several serrated leaves, 1 to 1 1/2 long. Serrations are pointed. Roots abt 3 in underground and run all over. Hard to pull up. Hundreds of sprouts.


What you describe sounds exactly like live oak root sprouts, aka suckers. The leaves of live oak root sprouts look remarkably like holly leaves. The reason they're hard to pull is because they're attached to the tree's roots. The reason some oak trees produce prodigious numbers of suckers while others don't produce any is still a mystery. Unfortunately, controlling root sprouts will be an ongoing, but ultimately futile task. Grubbing them is a short-term solution, but the sprouts will come back. Most people simply mow them regularly to keep them under control. In beds, mowing may not be an option and grubbing may be your only choice. Herbicides that will kill the root sprouts will greatly harm and likely kill the "mother" tree as well.


More Trees Questions

Problems with a Cercis (Redbud)
August 25, 2014 - Half of my redbud tree is pooped out looking. On two places on the bark are areas where a few layers of bark have pulled back. In these areas there are white growths.
view the full question and answer

Hiring a landscaper in New Jersey
July 28, 2008 - Soon I will be hiring a landscaper to plant a privacy line of arborvitaes with a 1' retention wall and I need some help on prices. The quote I was given, which included 48 arborvitaes (and I will ac...
view the full question and answer

Long Island Barrier Beach Plants
April 22, 2013 - I live on the south shore of Long Island on a barrier beach and am landscaping my property as a result of Sandy damage. I am going with a sand base, and I am looking for suitable trees and shrubs for...
view the full question and answer

Live oak trees with rusty spots and holes on tree trunks
September 21, 2011 - I have live oak trees that have developed rusty spots, small holes on the tree trunks and sawdust on the trees base. They were planted in Oct 2010. We have had a hot dry summer in Texas this year an...
view the full question and answer

Small to medium specimen native tree for Texas Hill Country
August 20, 2004 - Can you recommend a small to med. 'specimen' tree to plant near our patio? Full sun, drought tolerant, interesting during different seasons. Thought about Blanco Crabapple, Rusty Blackhaw, Smoke Tr...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center