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
1 rating

Saturday - April 18, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Leaves on Spanish oaks in Hays County TX dying
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have many Spanish Oaks on my Hays County property. The leaves started blooming last week, but this week all the young leaves are brown and appear to be dying. This is happening to all the otherwise healthy Spanish/Red oaks in the area. Cause for concern?


There are three species of the genus Quercus with the common name "Spanish Oak" in our Native Plant Database: Quercus buckleyi (Buckley oak), Quercus falcata (southern red oak) and Quercus texana (Texas red oak). You can follow the plant links to pages on the individual plants and determine which is growing in your area. It doesn't really matter in this context, however, as all are red oaks. Cause for concern? You bet! Species of red oak get Oak Wilt more frequently and succumb more readily than white oaks. The main period of infection is in the spring, with symptoms in red oaks occurring early in May. That is one ray of hope, at least, since the symptoms in your area were obviously appearing earlier than that. Please read this USDA Forest Service article on Oak Wilt by Charles O. Rexrode and Daniel Brown, which includes pictures of infected trees, ways the disease is transmitted and possible ways to prevent infection. There is no known cure for Oak Wilt.

There are other things, rapidly changing temperatures, insects, etc. that might be causing those symptoms, but it's out of our ability to diagnose or recommend from a distance. You should contact someone in your area who specializes in tree diseases and get them onsite to try to figure out what is going on. We would suggest you start by contacting the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension office for Hays County and asking for help. If this is as widespread as you say, they may already be aware of it and can give you information. At the very least, they can perhaps recommend a licensed arborist to come out and try to diagnose the problem. We very much hope that you find out that not only is it NOT Oak Wilt, but that the leaves are already starting to leaf out fresh and green.


More Trees Questions

Looking for a tree to plant as a memorial in Leesburg, GA.
September 09, 2010 - I'm looking for tree to plant as memorial to my brother who died. It must be native, for South Georgia, zone 8, open fields. It should provide mast for wildlife. Heat zone 8, good drought-tolerance. ...
view the full question and answer

Trees blooming white in Austin area
March 16, 2010 - 3/16/10 What are the trees that are blooming white in the Austin area. They are a full tree and very prolific in the area.
view the full question and answer

Distance apart to plant oaks in Denton TX
August 26, 2009 - How far apart should I plant Pin Oaks and Shumard Red Oaks in our yard? All around us are native oaks, but our backyard has none. I want to create a "forest" that looks like they are native, but n...
view the full question and answer

Plants for soil with basalt outcroppings in Idaho
March 30, 2008 - We have basalt (lava) outcropping in part of our back yard and know we'll have to search for pockets of soil in which to plant. Any suggestions about what trees or shrubs would have a chance in thes...
view the full question and answer

Treating splits in a Cottonwood tree trunk
August 09, 2014 - How to treat slipts in trunk of 4 year old Cottonwood tree.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center