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

Tuesday - May 04, 2010

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: What to do with ailing live oak trees
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Eric Beckers

QUESTION:

We live in far north San Antonio, TX on a 2 acre lot with many trees.. about 25% oak and 75% cedar. About 15% of our live oak trees have not sprouted leaves yet this spring, or have only sprouted leaves on the lower part of the tree trunk where the canopy begins. These same trees have also lost large chunks of bark, some areas as large as 20" x 7". We would love to get rid of many of the water hogging cedars so the oaks can thrive, but are afraid to remove too many of them in case we get hit with oak wilt (a cedar tree is better than no tree at all). Do you think this damage Is a result of stress on the trees from last years record drought? What should we do to help these trees survive? Should we paint the areas that have lost bark or cut them away? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants contacted Eric Beckers form the Texas Forest Service about this question.  Here is what he said:

"We're hearing this over and over again and we'll probably hear about it throughout the new year.  After being stressed by the drought many of our oaks were further damaged by Hypoxylon and borers.  As soon as you hear someone say the bark has fallen off, you can bet that their drought stressed tree has hypoxylon cankers (first brown and powdery, and then a silvery crust) and the prognosis is not good."  

Go to the  TAMU AgriLife Extension Plant Pathology page to find three fact sheets about hypoxylon:  Hypoxylon Fact Sheet #1, Hypoxylon Fact Sheet #2, and Hypoxylon Fact Sheet #3. 

Since you live in San Antonio, your trees aren't likely to be affected by oak wilt.  Eric continued:

"If you live in the areas north of a Wimberley to Kyle line then there is the chance that oak wilt could be at play as well.  Trees damaged by oak wilt can also display hypoxylon cankers, so then we look for the pattern of mortality, groups of oaks dying side by side, and the brown vein leaves.  Drought mortality accompanied by hypoxylon cankers usually occurs on one or two oaks over here and another two or three over there—the sick trees are scattered about with healthy ones in between."

However, you should visit the Texas Oak Wilt site to familiarize yourself with the symptoms, prevention and treatment of the disease.

We are very sorry about your trees and hope that you are able to save some of them.  If you are interested in replacing them, you can visit our Texas-South Recommended page to find trees for your area.  Actually, since San Antonio is right on the line between the two regions, the Texas-Central Recommended page would have some tree species appropriate to your area, also.


 

More Trees Questions

Replanting of non-native Christmas Palm from Sarasota FL
November 28, 2012 - Do you know of a proven technique to plant a Christmas Palm in a built-in concrete pool deck planter box - using gravel around the soil root ball to delay the root bound condition we just ripped out?
view the full question and answer

Plants wilting too quickly in Toledo OH
May 27, 2012 - The garden I have had recent issues with plants wilting all too quickly. I would like to know what types of plants would be hearty for the climate in Toledo, Ohio. I have a partly sunny front yard and...
view the full question and answer

Need recommendations for privacy screen in Richmond, VA
February 27, 2013 - Hello, I read through the previous posts on privacy screen plantings in the Mid Atlantic region. There was a lot of great information, but I has a specific question that was not answered. I would li...
view the full question and answer

Do Maple trees and Poplars grow well in Amarillo,TX?
May 25, 2010 - Do maple trees and poplars grow well in Amarillo Texas? I love the fall reds, oranges, and yellows. If they don't grow well can you recommend some trees that have the color that will grow well?
view the full question and answer

Why so many acorns in Houston?
November 16, 2009 - My son's home in Houston has a Live Oak. This year it has dropped MILLIONs of the seed pods. This hasn't happened in the nine years of living there. Is anything wrong with it? It looks OK but he ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center