Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

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

Should hole in escarpment live oak be filled in Austin?
May 24, 2009 - Regarding one of my mature escarpment live oaks: should an old hole (about 8" across) in the trunk (caused by the improper cutting of a branch) be filled? A tree service technician advised me that he...
view the full question and answer

Tree for caliche soil in Cochise County, Arizona
August 15, 2012 - What trees will thrive in areas of moderate caliche soil in southeast Arizona? My property is at 4,200 feet of elevation. Thanks for your help
view the full question and answer

Selection of a small variety of Desert Willow for SE Texas
August 02, 2011 - Looking to plant desert willow as shrub. Any helpful tips to keep height down and plant full or bushy.
view the full question and answer

Landscaping trees and shrubs non-toxic to dogs from Monticello FL
March 08, 2013 - We're landscaping and need advice on large and small evergreen trees and shrubs that are native to or will flourish in North Florida. We plan to put in a treeline (large and semi-large trees) as wel...
view the full question and answer

Changing colors on Mexican Plum trees from Bellaire TX
June 20, 2013 - The leaves on my Mexican Plum tree have recently started turning yellow/brown and the veins in leaves are red. Is this a watering issue or disease issue? Mites are on the leaves. This has been a ra...
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.