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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - June 08, 2008

From: Alpine, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Black growth on sotol plants
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My mature sotol plants have a black-like growth on the leaves. Is there any thing I can do to treat what looks like a disease on these plants?

ANSWER:

There are three plants going by the common name sotol in our Native Plants Database. They are: Dasylirion wheeleri (common sotol), Dasylirion leiophyllum (green sotol, and Dasylirion texanum (Texas sotol) . It really doesn't matter which yours is, they are very similar in appearance and culture. One surprising fact; they are not members of any of the cacti or agave families, but of the Liliaceae, or Lily, Family. Furthermore, Alpine, Texas would seem to be an ideal environment for them to grow.

We found two good websites discussing these plants: Texas A&M Horticulture Desert Sotol and Greenbeam.com Dasylirion ssp. What we did NOT find was much of any suggestion of what would be causing the spots on your sotol leaves. However, we have had several inquiries about various succulents and desert plants being grown in gardens that involved similar spots. We have learned from various sources that there are fungi that will attack otherwise very healthy plants if the atmosphere is too humid, or the plants are too well fertilized and watered. The best therapy we can recommend is to cut out the involved leaves, and dispose of the cut leaves so there will be no opportunity to transmit the infection to anything else. Be sure that the drainage in your sotol bed is very good, that water never stands there, and that it is not watered from overhead, except by rain, which has been pretty rare this year. Especially cut out any leaves on the lower part of the plant that are affected, so they will not continue to transmit the problem upward from the soil. These plants are evolved, over millennia, to survive in very difficult circumstances-rocky soil, no shade and very little moisture. It appears that when things get a little too plush for these plants, the very opportunistic fungi will leap in to share the wealth.


Dasylirion wheeleri

Dasylirion leiophyllum

Dasylirion texanum

Dasylirion texanum

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Death of lantana in Bryan TX
March 28, 2013 - I would like to know what killed several new gold lantana in a single bed that died over the winter. They looked quite healthy last fall. I have several other new gold lantana that survived the wint...
view the full question and answer

Possible mildew on standing cypress
May 29, 2008 - My mother-in-law took some standing cypress seeds from Texas to Virginia several years ago. They have always done very well, but this year they are growing very tall, but the bottom half of the stalk...
view the full question and answer

Oak Bark Loss in Arlington, TX
May 04, 2013 - I have multiple oak trees in my yard (in north texas) that have begun to lose their bark in small chunks. I'm in the middle of the city so their are no deer and yes it's been a dry 2 years but this...
view the full question and answer

Berry-looking parasites on live oak leaves
September 20, 2013 - Dripping Springs TX Live oaks. What are these berry looking parasites on my tree's leaves. As many as 4 1/4 in berries per leaf. I have 3 acres with dozens of liveoaks all having them on the leav...
view the full question and answer

Hibiscus plants being attacked by powdery mildew, or maybe mealy bugs in Austin, TX.
August 10, 2011 - I have three hibiscus plants planted outside about a foot apart from each other. The one that gets most of the sunlight is the worse off of the three. However, all three of them have white powdery stu...
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