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?

Share

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
6 ratings

Sunday - May 24, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Should hole in escarpment live oak be filled in Austin?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Regarding one of my mature escarpment live oaks: should an old hole (about 8" across) in the trunk (caused by the improper cutting of a branch) be filled? A tree service technician advised me that he should fill it in as the hole could fill with water and rot the tree. This hole has been there quite a while. Please help.

ANSWER:

We're not very clear about the character or cause of this "old hole" in your Quercus fusiformis (plateau oak). Are you saying that a branch was cut off and the hole formed by rotting or some other deterioration? A trimmed branch should be cut pretty flush with the trunk of the tree, and painted immediately with a paint for that purpose to help deter the entrance of Oak Wilt fungus, especially in the months of January to May, when the nitiludid beetle is active. In fact, no trimming at all should be done during those months, and damage to the bark or branches should always be avoided. Is it actually a hole opening into the interior of the trunk, or just a depression where it healed over? Either way, we can't diagnose the problem from a distance, but the filling it in (with what?) to keep water from filling the hole and causing rot sounds a little strange.  If the person who recommended this is a licensed arborist, and you have confidence in his advice, ask him what he proposes to fill the hole with.

We found a website from AllExperts Trees-hole in oak tree which describes the various ways holes can be caused in trees and some now disproved theories about what to do about those holes, including filling the cavity. You should read the whole article and especially note this excerpt:

"How should trees with cavities be treated? Recent research shows that it is better to leave the cavity open - remember no type of drainage, sterilization, fill material, wound paint, or scraping treatment stops decay - and simply take the necessary measures required to improve the overall health of the tree. A healthy tree has the strength to compartmentalize and wall-off decay." 

Before you agree to any treatment of your tree, we suggest a "second opinion."  You need someone who has been trained in care of trees, a licensed arborist, to look at it and make recommendations. Perhaps the Travis County Extension Office can recommend someone or at least what certifications they recognize. Go to this Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension website for Travis County. It has contact information and they are trained to help you with this kind of problem.


Quercus fusiformis

Quercus fusiformis

Quercus fusiformis

Quercus fusiformis

 

 

More Trees Questions

Are the moths in my Austin, TX live oaks harmful?
November 03, 2009 - It is November and my live oak trees are full of moths. What are they and are they harmful to my trees?
view the full question and answer

Grafting Shumard Oak to Decrease Acorn Bearing Age in New Orleans
September 23, 2010 - Can a Shumard Oak that is bearing acorns (30 yrs. old)be grafted to a seedling in order to decrease the bearing of the tree in a similar manner as grafting pecan trees? Can it be propagated by any me...
view the full question and answer

Native evergreen tree for horse pasture in New Jersey
April 05, 2009 - I just pulled out a laurel that was hiding a stand pipe in our horse paddock. We had trouble this winter with the horses eating it when there was little grass to graze on. Can you suggest an evergre...
view the full question and answer

My Cedar Elms drop leaves all year long. Is that a problem?
February 10, 2013 - Lake LBJ Area. My Cedar Elms,(I have about 8) drop leaves all year long and then drop all in late fall/early winter. Does the year round drop indicate a problem? It is definitely a nuisance. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Difficulty of watering at drip line of trees from The Woodlands TX
August 18, 2011 - I'm watering my couple dozen native mature trees to make sure they survive this drought and its aftermath..and I'm reading about how to water at the drip line. But..all of my trees' drip lines ext...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center