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

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

Oak saplings in Boerne TX
August 02, 2010 - Is there anything I can do to kill the oak tree saplings that come up around my oak tree? I have a nice raised flower bed around the tree and now it's full of these saplings. Thanks for your help...
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

How can I control underground runners from from Pride of Houston Yaupons in Austin, TX?
July 16, 2010 - How can I control the underground runners from the Pride of Houston Yaupons?
view the full question and answer

More on preventing suckers on live oaks in Austin
August 01, 2010 - I just received an oak sprout answer id=6021. I have a followup question. Our sprouts are caused by the motte we live in - 12 live oaks on 1/4 acre. I understand we will have to hand dig 1000s of t...
view the full question and answer

Non-native, invasive Paulownia for San Marcos TX
April 24, 2012 - Can a Paulownia tree grow in San Marcos? If so were can I get one?
view the full question and answer

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