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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.

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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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Thursday - June 11, 2009

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Curling lower leaves on live oak in Cedar Park, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have noticed that one of my live oak tree, the leaves on the bottom of the tree have stared to curl. The leaves above that look fine. The trees are about 12 yrs old. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

Since you live in either Northern Travis County or Williamson County, we are going to assume that you have a Quercus fusiformis (plateau oak), which is native to that area. Unfortunately, we cannot begin any discussion of problems with a live oak without talking about Oak Wilt. To give you more information about the appearance and symptoms of this disease, see this USDA website Identify, Prevent and Control Oak Wilt.  

There are two other possible reasons for the curling of the leaves, Oak Anthracnose and Oak Decline. Oak Anthracnose, while it causes curling and discoloration on lower leaves, seems to affect only white oaks, not live oaks. Ditto with Oak Decline, which is most often caused by insects or diseases that invade a tree already in trouble for some other reason.

It is almost impossible to diagnose a plant disease without seeing it. You would be advised to contact someone who is trained in the recognition of oak diseases and arrange to have the tree examined. Go to the Texas Oak Wilt Partnership webpage for some suggestions on how to get help. Another valuable source of information on tree diseases is the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Office for Williamson County. There is always the possibility that some insect of which we are not aware is causing this type of symptom in your area. The website has contact information, and they possibly even can give you a source for diagnosis.

 

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