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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - April 12, 2010

From: New Braunfels, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Bark flaking off oaks in New Braunfels, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have several large clusters of oak trees. Some of the trees are losing their bark. The bark is flaking off in fairly large pieces; even on some of the trees that are leafing out. Is this a result of the drought or a disease? Is there anything we can do to limit the progression of this process and keep them from dying? Thanks

ANSWER:

When you speak of "clusters," we wonder if you have mottes of live oaks, in which there is always danger of Oak Wilt infection, mostly by transmission through the interlocking root system. The Quercus fusiformis (plateau oak), also called the Escarpment Live Oak, is native to the New Braunfels area and very susceptible to Oak Wilt infection. We suggest that the first thing you do is go to the site of the Texas Oak Wilt Information Partnership and read the various articles about identifying and controlling this damaging disease. Between February 15 and June 15 is the period when the Nitidulid beetle, which carries the fungus, is out looking for damaged oaks from which it can eat some nice sap. The fungus may not be the primary cause of the bark flaking off, but it will certainly be inviting to the fungus-carrying beetle.

We are not plant pathologists and, obviously, cannot see the trees. Live Oaks are far too valuable to take a chance on figuring out what is wrong with them from a distance. We suggest you contact a trained, licensed arborist who can first (hopefully) tell you what is causing the flaking bark and second (really hopefully) help you prevent an invasion of the Oak Wilt fungus. Within the website from the Texas Oak Wilt Partnership is this site on Texas  Counties with Master Gardeners/Master Naturalist Oak Wilt Specialists. Since New Braunfels is in two counties, and both of them have sites on the disease, you can contact them through these links. We would have recommended you contact them under any circumstances because they are closer to the situation and much more likely to know what is causing the bark to flake off. 

Texas A&M AgriLIFE extension office for Guadalupe County

Texas A&M AgriLIFE extension office for Comal County

There are also contacts for assistance from the Texas Forest Service. Those offices are for Comal County, in the Johnson City District and Kerrville/San Antonio District for Guadalupe County. 

 

More Trees Questions

Non-native, and/or invasive bermudagrass, St. Augustine and Pistache from Houston
September 24, 2012 - Our St. Augustine lawn died suddenly this summer from either chinch bugs or grub worms (or both?), and a multitude of weeds and native Bermuda have taken over the area. Now that the weather has cooled...
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

Tall trees for privacy screen in St. Augustine FL
March 24, 2013 - Please let me know what kind of evergreen tall trees I can plant for privacy in my back yard in the st. Augustine, Florida area. Thanks for your assistance.
view the full question and answer

Cottonwood trees shedding in Orion MI
June 23, 2010 - How long can I plan on my cottonwood trees (wild) shedding long wide cotton strips? This is a first for my trees. Usually it is fluffy small puffs.
view the full question and answer

Effect of unusual wet weather on desert willows
July 23, 2007 - I live in North Central Texas and have 3 beautiful Desert willow trees that are usually in full bloom. I've kept them pruned to form a nice full tree shape but now they are losing leaves and looking ...
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.