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

Repairing damage to Anacacho Orchid Tree in Austin
April 30, 2008 - Hi You Guys!! We have an understory Anacacho Orchid Tree in the front and my sweetie was trimming the big oak and dropped a branch down, splitting one of the large branches off the Anacacho. The wou...
view the full question and answer

Life expectancy for Ulmus crassifolia
June 21, 2007 - What is the life expectancy for a cedar elm? We live in Austin, and the tree was likely here before the house, which was built in 1939.
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Callery Pear tree from Louisville KY
June 03, 2013 - I have a Cleveland select that has a bark issue. It is on its second season and I just saw this. It looks like the bark is bubbling up kinda and then wants to peel off the main trunk. I have a picture...
view the full question and answer

Foundation plants for Albuquerque.
July 01, 2012 - Hello, I live in Albuquerque. I am looking for some native/xeric low water usage plants for foundation plants for my home. They will be foundation plants for a two story home that has a large ponde...
view the full question and answer

Oak Bark Loss in Arlington, TX
May 04, 2013 - I have multiple oak trees in my yard (in north texas) that have begun to lose their bark in small chunks. I'm in the middle of the city so their are no deer and yes it's been a dry 2 years but this...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center