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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - May 11, 2009

From: Elgin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Trees
Title: Why are the eastern red cedars in Bastrop/Travis County turning brown?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I live on the Bastrop/Travis county, TX line and have many eastern red cedars on my property. About 10 of them are dying and it has happened quickly with the onset of the warmer weather. I noticed driving along the highway, the countryside is just peppered with brown cedars that are already dead. This is just something that has started happening this year. I've not seen it in years past. For my dying trees that i can reach with the water supply, I've been letting water drip for hours at a time, hoping it is drought related. So far no change though. Any idea what might be happening?

ANSWER:

The eastern red cedar Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar)  is the most widely distributed conifer of tree size in the Eastern United States, and East Texas certainly has its share.

Yours is the second question we have received lately regarding browning of the Junipers, and excerpting from the previous answer, the causes could be:

too much water

too little water

juniper scale (an insect disease)

spider mites

juniper twig blight ( fungal disease)

The websites below have descriptions of the various diseases that may allow you determine the cause of the problem.

The National Forest  Service article on Eastern Red Cedar gives an overview of the biology of the tree and the agents that attack it.

 Kansas State Research and Extension has a down-loadable publication titled "Juniper Diseases" that covers fungal diseases of Juniper.

Clemson Extension has an article titled "Juniper Diseases and Insect pests".

New Mexico State University Extension  has a nice discussion of spidermites.

A source of help closer to home of course is the Bastrop County (or Travis County) office of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service which can put you in touch with the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

We would be interested in learning what kind of results you get.

 

 

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