Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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 Vines Questions

Vines for Texas Panhandle
May 07, 2012 - I need a fast-growing vine for our pergola that does not attract bees or wasps. It will be in full sun in the panhandle of Texas--two hours north of Amarillo.
view the full question and answer

Tip Dieback on Lonicera sempervirens
August 14, 2013 - I have a Lonicera sempervirens (coral honeysuckle) vine in Virginia which does well early in the season, but then around July, the very tips of its shoots (just the last 1-2 inches) wither, turn black...
view the full question and answer

Growing non-native Cabernet Sauvignon vines in Central Texas
July 01, 2013 - Hi. I recently moved into a remodeled home in Taylor, TX, and have experimented with Cabernet Savignon vines before. I have a 1/2 acre and a chain-link fence I want to put vines on. (I have a book o...
view the full question and answer

Control of grapevines in trees
June 15, 2007 - Grapevines have overtaken some of the trees on our property in Central Texas. What is the best way to get rid of the grapevines and (hopefully) save the trees?
view the full question and answer

Smoky Mountains Shaded Slope Plant Suggestions
April 29, 2013 - We live in a very shady spot in Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina. We would like to plant vegetation on a sloped area behind our cottage to stop erosion after building an addition. Our h...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.