En Español

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

Tuesday - December 08, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Live oak trees dropping leaves in clumps
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have several large mature Live Oak trees in our Austin TX neighborhood. Now that the rains have come back and the acorns are falling, two of our four trees are also dropping large amounts of leaves in clumps connected to small twigs. I do not see this happening in our neighbors yards. At first I attributed it to stress, but now I'm a bit worried. Both are near the house built 30 years ago. The oak trees are clear of the house.

ANSWER:

The good news is that what you describe doesn't sound like oak wilt, a serious problem with live oak trees in the Austin area.  You can read about the characteristics of oak wilt from the Texas Oak Wilt Information Partnership. We assume that you've ruled out squirrels.  Squirrels do sometimes knock off clumps of leaves in their enthusiasm for collecting acorns. Your trees may be showing the stress from the recent drought and sudden weather change or it is possible that they are being attacked by Oncideres cingulata (twig girdler). Here is an image of the insect. In actuality, we can't really diagnose your problem sight unseen.  If your trees are still losing large numbers of leafy clumps, you may want to ask an arborist to take a look at your trees. Here are several links to sites that can help find a qualified arborist in the Austin area:

Evaluating and Choosing an Arborist  

Web Search Tool to find an Arborist 

Site to Learn About and Find a Consulting Arborist

 

More Trees Questions

Black coloration on Star Magnolia is probably sooty mold.
November 21, 2008 - I have a star magnolia where 90% of the bark has turned black. It almost looks burned. The tree has decent buds set for next spring. What is causing the bark to turn black?
view the full question and answer

Planting and care of Desert Willow in Golden Valley, AZ.
May 17, 2013 - I got a desert willow to plant in yard. Some of the leaves dried out before I could plant. Will that stop the tree from growing into a decent size tree or stay as a shrub?
view the full question and answer

Texas madrone trimmings for a wedding
July 26, 2011 - Looking for Texas madrone tree trimmings needed for a special wedding.
view the full question and answer

Fasciation on Texas Mountain Laurel
November 21, 2012 - Do Texas Mountain Laurel normally have a staghorn looking growth hanging on them after blooming in addition to the seed pod clusters or could this be a mutation?
view the full question and answer

A Tree for Infant Daughter in Katy, TX
December 04, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, We would like to plant a tree to "grow with" our infant daughter. We think she will enjoy measuring herself against it year after year, and will feel a sense of pride as we care...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center