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

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

Why is my Chinkapin oak losing its leaves this spring?
June 02, 2009 - We have a chinkapin oak that was planted about two years ago in our front yard. This year it leafed out nicely but about a month ago the leaves began to roll up, then dry out and fall off. It seems ...
view the full question and answer

Best dogwood to plant in Dallas GA
June 13, 2010 - I am interested in how to select the best dogwood (Flowering) tree to plant in Dallas, GA 30157. The location receives full sun, the soil is typical GA clay/?. I found a list of 20+ Dogwood trees on...
view the full question and answer

Repairing damage to Anacacho Orchid Tree in Austin
April 30, 2008 - Hi You Guys!! We have an understory Anacacho Orchid Tree in the front and my sweetie was trimming the big oak and dropped a branch down, splitting one of the large branches off the Anacacho. The wou...
view the full question and answer

Bugs eating new growth on Mountain Laurel shrubs from Dripping Springs TX
April 02, 2013 - What is eating the new growth on my mountain laurel shrubs? One plant has red bugs and the other has black (could they be love bugs?). Is there something I can do to preserve the new growth?
view the full question and answer

Effects of patio under large tree
July 17, 2008 - I would like to put in a patio under a fairly large tree. I understand a tree needs some open ground around it for air and water. Can I use flagstone leaving 6-10 inches of space between the stones?...
view the full question and answer

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