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
1 rating

Friday - July 17, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees, Vines
Title: Should a mustang grape be left near live oak in Austin?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I recently removed a huge mass of jasmine from a clump of live oaks. Inside I found a very large (12' long) exposed root of a mustang grape. I'd like to trim it back to the original clump and retain it in the landscape. BUT I have heard that if vines climb up into the tops of live oaks they will kill the tree. Is that true? And if so, will that be a problem if I keep the grape next to the live oaks.

ANSWER:

Depends-which do you value most, the grape vine or the tree? Vitis mustangensis (mustang grape) is, indeed, a native of Central and East Texas. It can certainly climb up over a tree, and with its big leaves shade out the leaves of the tree, causing the tree problems and, at worst, death of the tree. When you drive through the countryside in the summer, and you see those huge mounds of vines, that is usually a mustang grape growing over whatever was there. See this page of pictures of the mustang grape from the Image Archive of Central Texas Plants from the University of Texas at Austin. The vine is deciduous, which means that in summer it will be draping over and shading your live oak, and in winter, the oak will have dry vines hanging off of it. 

If you really want to keep both the grapevine and the tree, you will need to be vigilant in keeping the vine off the tree, and be very careful not to damage the oak bark when you are pruning the grapevines. The Live Oak is susceptible to Oak Wilt, and from January to June (mainly) the nitiludid beetle that spreads the fatal fungal disease is active and looking for entrances into a tree, like pruning wounds and damage to the bark. 

 

From the Image Gallery


Mustang grape
Vitis mustangensis

Mustang grape
Vitis mustangensis

More Trees Questions

Texas Pistachio trees dropping leaves in Austin
June 09, 2010 - I have several Texas Pistachio that are about 13 years old. Despite good rainfall in Travis county this year, they seem to be losing most of their new leaf growth now in early June. Leaves are simpl...
view the full question and answer

Oak tree with browning leaves in Brenham TX
August 16, 2011 - I have a large oak tree in my small back yard. I also have a sprinkler so the tree has been receiving some water. Nevertheless, some of the leaves are turning brown in patches. Would drip watering ...
view the full question and answer

Trees for pool area in Solano County, California
June 02, 2010 - We are looking for trees we can plant with non-invasive roots near our pool. We don't want them to get too big (about 10 feet) because we don't want them to shade out our pool. We also don't want...
view the full question and answer

Growing pecan and fruit trees near Canyon Lake, Texas
July 07, 2014 - I just bought a property on the north side of Canyon Lake in the Hill Country of Texas. Most of the trees around are cedar, and a few live oak. I know I have seen beautiful Pecan trees as well as seve...
view the full question and answer

Removing a non-native windmill palm from Austin
February 27, 2013 - I have a fairly good size windmill palm (about 15ft high) that is planted too close to the house. I also don't like having to constantly remove its fronds as they block a walkway. Is there a good wa...
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