Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

Desert Willow Roots from Lubbock, TX
September 18, 2014 - I have a very, very happy Desert Willow that has grown larger than we expected and is probably too close to the house. Do I need to worry about a cracked foundation or pipe problems? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Small flowering tree for MS
March 21, 2011 - I had to cut down some trees that had grown too close to my foundation, but would like to re-plant something a little farther from the house (12-16 feet away) that would still serve as a screen outsid...
view the full question and answer

How many native trees in U.S. from Clarkson MI
May 18, 2011 - Does anybody have any numbers on how many native trees there are in the entire United States?
view the full question and answer

Fruit and nut trees safe for horses.
May 11, 2015 - My husband and I just moved to Elgin. We have always wanted to grow fruit/nut baring trees but didn't take in to consideration that horses might eat them. We have never had land or horses before, s...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite)
February 27, 2014 - One of our mature Honey Mesquite trees is losing thumb sized branches high up in the canopy because something is stripping the bark. The branches are completely white for 8-12 inches. Of course the ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.