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?


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
Not Yet Rated

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


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?


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.


More Trees Questions

Need suggestions for a privacy screen besides Murray Cypress.
October 18, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in NE TX, about an hour east of Dallas on I-20. I hear interstate traffic behind my house, and have a busy street on its left side, and a school adjoining in back. I thi...
view the full question and answer

Failure of Bald Cypress to fully leaf out
April 14, 2008 - My family just moved to a house in Burnet County, about 7 miles south of Bertram, close to the Balcones Canyonlands NWR, with very rocky limestone soil. We bought several trees last fall, including a ...
view the full question and answer

Will a Texas Mountain Laurel thrive in a 4'x4'x4' brick planter. pl
September 14, 2015 - Would a Texas Mountain Laurel thrive in a 4'x4'x4'x4' brick planter with a drain at the bottom? It will get full sun all day. If not, would a Green Cloud Sage or a Waxleaf Myrtle work? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

A tree for fall color in VA
September 05, 2011 - I need a small to medium-sized tree for enclosure/privacy screening. I'm looking for a fast-growing, deciduous tap-rooted tree for a lawn area about 30-40' away from an existing mature Linden, and ...
view the full question and answer

Elimination of live oak adventitious sprouts in San Angelo TX
July 28, 2009 - Live oak sprouts. The main tree was removed several years ago and we still have the sprouts coming up in the yard. How do we stop this?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center