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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - December 20, 2009

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Vines
Title: Are grape vines killing oaks in San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have some large live oaks growing in sand on some property I have south of San Antonio that are slowly dying one limb at a time. Some large mustang grape vines are growing in and around them and I think that's the most likely reason they're in trouble. Two of the trees only have one large limb left alive. What are my chances of saving the trees if I cut down the grape vines?


We are not experts in plant diseases, but we can tell you that if your oaks continue to be covered by grape vines, their large leaves shading the oak leaves from essential sunlight, their chances of living are zero.

For other possibilities, we will refer you to some websites that have specific information on symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of some common live oak problems:

From TreeHelp.com Oak Wilt

From Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories: Live Oaks in Texas

Since you mentioned no other symptoms (except for death), we couldn't possibly make any recommendations from this distance. If you feel that the shading of the grape vines was not the only possibility, and nothing in our referenced articles struck a chord, we suggest you contact the Texas A&M Agri LIFE Extension Office for Bexar County, which can likely give you more specific help. 



More Vines Questions

Unusual vine in San Diego County, California
May 12, 2012 - Dear Mr. or Ms. Smarty Pants, I came across an unusual vine winding through a young Zumaque growing off the edge of a mesa in San Diego (coastal sage scrub). The small (fingernail-sized)leaves rough...
view the full question and answer

Identity of vine growing in Naples Florida
September 15, 2014 - I live on country/residential property outside of Naples, Florida. This year I have had dozens of seedlings of some type of vine popping up all over. I have posted on a couple plant blogs looking for ...
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming wisteria in Oklahoma
June 24, 2008 - I have a wisteria bush that doesn't bloom. It's two years old. What should I do?
view the full question and answer

Will Hyacinth Beans and Cardinal vine (non-natives) grow in Texas?
April 28, 2007 - I live in Coppell, TX, and a neighbor gave me some Hyacinith Beans and Cardinal Vine seeds to plant. She described these as doing well in her local garden, but I cannot find a photo or picture of them...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Hyacinth Bean vine dying
June 17, 2008 - I live in Missouri and have tried to grow hyacinth bean. Mine drop leaves (after some yellow appears on on them)and the vine turns yellow, then withers to brown. Other places near me grow them beautif...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center