En EspaŅol

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
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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - March 15, 2010

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Double trunks on bur oaks in Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am involved in a garden club propagation project. One of the trees we have had success propagating is the Bur Oak. Two of these baby Bur Oaks have multi trunks..one has two and the other has three. They both appear healthy and are beautiful specimens. Will these trees be weakened by having more than one trunk? If so, do we prune them now to just having one trunk?

ANSWER:

Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak) is an excellent choice for the Houston area. According to this article from the USDA Forest Service, Bur Oak should be grown from a single leader. From savvygardener.com, we found this article on Pruning Trees, from which we extracted this passage:

"To prune a young tree to a single leader (the stem that will become the trunk), locate the straightest and best leader to retain. In shaping the tree crown, remove lateral branches that are growing upright. They will compete with the leader and form a weak, multi-leader tree. Most trees can be grown with a single leader when they are young, but the growth habit of some species will change to a multiple leader spreading form at maturity. There should be no branches leaving the trunk at an acute angle or narrow forks either between branches or between a branch and the trunk. Branches that are less than two-thirds the diameter of the trunk are less likely to split off than larger branches."

Conditions Comments: The species name macrocarpa refers to the golf ball sized acorns of this tree. The leaves of bur oak also are large, so they are easy to rake. Bur oak is drought resistant, long-lived and reasonably fast-growing for an oak. Tolerates limey soils better than other oaks. Resistant to oak wilt and a number of other problems. Sensitive to root zone disturbance caused by construction.

We would suggest that you do this pruning right away, while the weather is still cool.


Quercus macrocarpa

Quercus macrocarpa

Quercus macrocarpa

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Tree for area around patio in East Texas
December 31, 2008 - What is the best type of tree to plant around my patio which faces the southeast
view the full question and answer

Ash tree shedding seeds early in IL
June 23, 2011 - I've lived in my house 13 years now and have a large and old ash tree in my backyard near my patio. The seed pods are ten-fold this year and are dropping constantly. I've never experienced this co...
view the full question and answer

Slow development in Shumard Oak from Porter TX
April 02, 2013 - We had two Shumard Oaks Planted in Sept of last year (2012). About a month later, they started browning and dropping their leaves (no color change). Now I noticed on one of the trees the buds have sta...
view the full question and answer

Trees for barrier fence near swimming pool in West Virginia
March 10, 2010 - Near swimming pool, barrier fence needs to replace pine trees. Prefer blooming perennial at least 12' high,low sun exposure, minimal pruning.
view the full question and answer

Problems with rusty blackhaw viburnum in Austin
May 07, 2010 - I have a four foot rusty blackhaw viburnum. Last summer the leaves turned reddish and in the late summer most of them fell off. This February the plant started to leaf out and then bloomed. It has ...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center