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?


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
1 rating

Thursday - August 21, 2008

From: Sturgeon Bay, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Wilting of Mountain Ash in Wisconsin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


What type of disease would cause a Mountain Ash to entirely wilt? The bark on bottom of tree is opening up and is spongy feeling. No sign of any disease until last month and it quickly wilted with brown leaves. The tree is in a natural area with no soil contamination or compaction. It received plenty of water.


We are going to assume that your tree is the Sorbus americana (American mountain ash), native to Wisconsin and a member of the Rosaceae family, and not Fraxinus americana (white ash), also native to Wisconsin and a member of the Oleaceae family. There are a number of diseases said to affect the Mountain Ash, and we are going to find websites that describe them and perhaps give you some information on control. Here is a Wisconsin Botanical Information System website on Sorbus americana.

University of California Integrated Pest Management Fire Blight

Nevada Plant Pathology Canker diseases on ornamental woody plants

Pictures of Bark  Canker

University of Maine Pest Management Lab Crown gall-often a problem on members of the Rosaceae family

Diagnosing and recommending treatment of a plant at a distance is nearly impossible. We suggest that you contact a trained arborist or your University of Wisconsin Extension Door County office.


More Trees Questions

Moving a red oak away from the house foundation
January 24, 2008 - About a 3 weeks ago I noticed a 5 ft. red oak growing in my flower bed. I hadn't noticed it growing up through my shrubs until the leaves turned bright red. The problem is that its coming up about tw...
view the full question and answer

Symmetrical Holes in Live Oak leaves.
April 08, 2009 - We have 2 young live oaks - quercus virginianum trees and their brand new leaves show two symmetrical rows of pin-sized holes punctured along the length of them. What could have caused this?
view the full question and answer

Need plants to replace Red Tipped Photinias in Bonham, TX
April 11, 2015 - I have 7 red tipped photinias that had all their leaves eaten last summer by an infestation of grasshoppers. I do mean all. They are or were about 10 years old. Can you tell me if they will grow back ...
view the full question and answer

Catalpa and maple with dying branches in Wisconsin
July 07, 2008 - We have a northern catalpa in our front yard. It's been there for about three years now and is probably 25' high. This year it appeared to be doing great. It flowered and then all of sudden last ...
view the full question and answer

Over-trimming of native linden tree
November 06, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, My huge beautiful linden tree was just way over trimmed. It is planted near the house, so they cut most of the branches on that side all the way back to the trunk. I now have...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center