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?


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
3 ratings

Sunday - April 18, 2010

From: Little Rock, AR
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: No acorns on mature live oak in Little Rock AR
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Why does my very large mature live oak have no acorns?


We need to ask you some questions; we don't want answers back, this is just to help you figure out what is going on. How long have you lived with this tree? Did you just move onto the property or have you had it a number of years? If so, has it ever failed to produce acorns before? When did you first notice there were no acorns? The oak tree blooms in the Spring (like right now) and is a major allergen, so I'm sure you would notice if it was blooming. It produces acorns in the Fall, as they are the seeds for the tree resulting from the blooms. If a previous owner responsibly cleaned up all the acorns last Fall, your tree should not have produced any acorns yet. You didn't say which of several species your live oak is, nor how old it is or you estimate it to be. 

From a previous answer to someone who had a lot of acorns being dropped all at once:

From this arcytech.org website Interesting Facts About Oak Trees, we excerpted this information:

"Oak trees can start producing acorns when they are 20 years old, but sometimes can go all the way to 50 years for the first production. By the time the tree is 70 to 80 years old it will produce thousands of acorns.

The oak trees produce acorns once a year during the fall. Acorn production varies year to year and normally alternates. Not even the healthiest and largest oak can accumulate enough food and energy to produce strong crops two years in succession. Real strong acorn productions might happen every four to ten years. In addition, a late spring frost can blight the flowers which prevents acorn development. Droughts and insect ravages can decimate crops.

Acorn production will increase year after year; following a similar pattern as the size of the tree's canopy."

From The Woodland Steward How to Manage Forests for Acorn Production "Although environmental factors unfavorable to acorn production such as late spring frost and summer drought...."

We know there has been unusual weather all over the country, and if you had no acorns last Fall, this might be the explanation. Beyond that, we are at a loss to explain the absence of acorns, particularly if you have noticed no sign of disease otherwise in your tree. One thing we did note: there are 29 members of the Quercus (oak) native to Arkansas, but not one of them has the common name "live oak." That certainly doesn't mean it couldn't be planted there, in Central Arkansas, Pulaski Co., USDA Hardiness Zone 7b, a live oak should be happy. We recommend you contact the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Office for Pulaski County. If there is something going on around there with acorns on live oaks, they are closer to the situation and should know. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Quercus virginiana

Quercus virginiana

Quercus virginiana

Quercus virginiana




More Trees Questions

Law against planting cottonwood in Madison WI
October 08, 2013 - I was told that there is an ordinance against planting cottonwood trees in Madison, WI. Is this true?
view the full question and answer

Viability of Texas Mountain Laurel in Louisiana
March 19, 2008 - I just returned from a visit to Austin and I saw the Texas Mountain Laurel everywhere. I live in the Baton Rouge, LA area and would like to know if performing some soil amendments would allow me to gr...
view the full question and answer

Identification of bush with red berries
March 11, 2013 - bush? grows along fence lines in rural areas; sheds foliage in fall; berries appear; colors vary from red to orange, depending on soil?
view the full question and answer

Plants for under non-native fruitless mullberry trees from Ft. Worth TX
June 28, 2012 - I live in Tarrant county, where summer droughts are the norm. I have a 150x50 foot swathe of mature "fruitless mulberry" trees, which create a very shady atmosphere. The soil is clay dominated, ro...
view the full question and answer

Dying branches on Texas Mountain Laurel from Kempner TX
September 14, 2012 - The branches on my Texas Mountain Laurel are very dry and brittle. The leaves are also starting to die. The tree has been in my yard for six years and prior to that it sat wrapped in burlap for ov...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center