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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - June 28, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Clear pungent, liquid oozing from oak tree
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Eric Beckers

QUESTION:

I have a large oak that over the last few days has been oozing a pungent, non sticky, clear substance from one specific site (no damage) about the size of a dime. It's attracting quite a few gnats, moths and butterflies. Should I be concerned?

ANSWER:

Our expert from the Texas Forest Service, Eric Beckers, says that this sounds like wetwood, also known as slime flux, a bacterial disease that enters through a wound.  The pressure caused by the bacteria growing inside the tree usually produces a foaming weep that is very attractive to insects.  A healthy oak should be able to close the wound and shut down the bacterial ooze.  In the meantime, a periodic hosing down of the weep will cut down on insect activity and the pungent aroma.  Here is more information on wet wood or slime flux from the Univeristy of Illinois

 

 

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