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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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Friday - October 09, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Brownish haze on live oak leaves in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

My live oak tree leaves are getting a brownish "haze" on them, almost as if they have been spray painted (lightly) with brown paint. I did use the oak wilt identifier and that is not at all what it looks like. What could it be? It started with one of my trees (I have 9 on my property) and now it's moved to another. We planted them 3 years ago, and they have been mostly thriving. The first tree to show symptoms was planted (accidentally) along a fault line between the existing clay soil and the back fill from the developer of our community, and we had been having trouble with cave-in of the soil around the roots. We did remedy that situation, and attributed the leaf-browning to perhaps air pockets around the roots. However, the second tree to show the same symptoms was planted in stable earth, and is actually the largest of our trees, having grown the most since planting.

ANSWER:

We have noticed it, too.  While we are not certain of its cause, we suspect the severe drought, possibly combined with the unusually hot weather this summer took its toll on either the chlorophyll, the chloroplasts in which the chlorophyll is contained or entire cells within tissues of the oak leaves. 

Usually considered evergreens, live oaks are actually deciduous trees that shed their leaves in late winter or early spring just as new leaves are emerging.  When the new leaves appear on your trees in February or March of next year they should be a healthy, green color.

 

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