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
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

Safe branch length of oaks in Clayton NC
November 06, 2011 - I have 2 very large oak trees in my yard and I am concerned about the length of the branches over the house and driveway. Most seem larger than 4" in diameter. What is a safe length for these branc...
view the full question and answer

Growth rate of Thuja occidentalis
January 31, 2011 - What is the growth rate of thuja occidentalis? I have found web sites and books claiming slow to fast.
view the full question and answer

Survivors of a Cedar Elm thicket thinning.
April 12, 2013 - I thinned a thicket of cedar elm saplings, but a few are now leaning excessively. Will they straighten up over time or should I go ahead and cut them too? Thanks!!
view the full question and answer

Native holly (ilex) for Austin area
May 28, 2006 - Hi--my brother and his family live in Austin, TX--their german shepard "Holly" just died (she was 13)--I was throwing around the idea of sending them a holly plant of some sort to have in honor of H...
view the full question and answer

June bug larvae destroying Red Twig Dogwood in Pittsburgh, PA
May 02, 2010 - June Bug larvae are destroying my Red Twig Dogwood. I have treated with Milky Spore, but the long wait for benefit is too long to save the ailing plant. What can I do? HELP! Thank you from the bot...
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