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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - July 31, 2008

From: Jackson , MI
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Tulip tree with white spots on leaves in Mississippi
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a tulip tree in my yard that blooms in the spring that is about 10-15 years old. However just this past week or so we have noticed that there is lots of white spots on the leaves and the branches. And many of the leaves are also turned blackish and a sticky syrup is leaking out of them all over our sidewalk. What is happening. This is our tree right in the front of our house that we love, can it be saved?


Liriodendron tulipifera (tuliptree) is an excellent hardwood tree and native to Mississippi, so it should be able to do well there. Some sources tell us it suffers from no significant pests or diseases, but what do they know? Read this USDA Forest Service website Liriodendron tulipfera which lists some pests and diseases. Aphids, particularly tuliptree aphids, can build up to large numbers, leaving heavy deposits of honeydew on lower leaves, cars and other hard surfaces. A black sooty mold may grow on the honeydew. Although this does little permanent damage to the tree, the honeydew and sooty mold can be annoying. Powdery mildew causes a white coating on the leaves and is not usually harmful. Another possibility for the spots on the leaves is found in this Ohio Floriculture website on mealy bugs.

Some of the problems are more or less seasonal. The bugs and the mildew tend to flourish in hot, humid weather. Poor air circulation around the tree can be a contributing cause to mildew, so you might consider thinning the tree a little bit this winter. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center neither recommends for nor against the use of pesticides, but you might consult with your Mississippi State University extension office for Hinds County. They should know both whether there is an outbreak of problems with the tuliptree and be able to make recommendations for treatment.

Liriodendron tulipifera

Liriodendron tulipifera

Liriodendron tulipifera

Liriodendron tulipifera




More Pests Questions

Apparent disease in peach tree in Austin
June 12, 2008 - I have a peach tree that the leaves are "bleeding" out on. The leaves are continuing to get paler and paler. There are no peaches on the tree this year either. What can I do?
view the full question and answer

Invasive native blackeyed susans from Warren OH
August 07, 2013 - In our demo garden we master gardeners in NE Ohio have been unable to get rid of black-eyed susans which have, like the other person, prevented or "killed" the other perennial plants. They are spre...
view the full question and answer

Insects attacking Gregg's Blue Mistflower from Comfort TX
June 20, 2013 - I have a beautiful stand of Gregg's Blue Mist flower that have been attacked by an unknown insect. The new growth is curled and stunted and it is not flowering. I'm not alone..I've seen the Gregg'...
view the full question and answer

Chigger Control in Habiturf from Plano, TX
April 08, 2015 - We converted our back yard in Plano, Texas to Habiturf last spring/summer and have a nice lawn; however, for the first time since we have lived in this house for 32 years, the lawn was full of chigger...
view the full question and answer

Replacements for yuccas from Georgetown TX
August 07, 2013 - I have lost some softleaf and variegated yucca to a beetle grub destroying the root system - like the Agave snout beetle does. I have put an insecticidal drench on my remaining plants, but suspect wi...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center