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

Saturday - September 11, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Oak Selection in Austin
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

The City of Austin is offering me two free trees to plant in my front yard. I live on the limestone shelf that is Northwest Austin, with only a few inches of topsoil that was brought in by the home builder way back when. I have some Live Oak growing on the back of my lot so I am confident these would grow. However, my husband likes the look of the Chinquapin Oak so my question is, would the Chinquapin Oak have a likelihood of success given my growing conditions or should I stick with the Live Oak? Thank you for your advice.

ANSWER:

You have the lucky opportunity to choose between two outstanding trees. Both Quercus muehlenbergii (Chinkapin oak) and Quercus fusiformis (Escarpment live oak) are native to central Texas and do well in the Austin area.

However, anyone considering planting oak trees should know the facts about oak wilt. Oak wilt is one of the most destructive tree diseases in the United States. It is killing oak trees in central Texas at epidemic proportions. Oak wilt is an infectious disease caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum, which invades and disables the water-conducting system in susceptible trees. Much more information can be found at this link:  Texas oak wilt information partnership.

Generally speaking, the red oaks, including Spanish oaks, Texas red oaks, Shumard oaks and blackjack oaks, are most susceptible to oak wilt. The white oaks, including Q. muehlenbergii are resistant to the fungus and rarely die from oak wilt. The live oaks are intermediate in susceptibility to oak wilt, but are most seriously affected due to their tendency to grow from root sprouts and form vast interconnected root systems that allow movement (or spread) of the fungus between adjacent trees.

Considering the relative susceptibilty between live oaks and Chinquapin oaks and, considering that you already have live oaks growing on your property, it would seem that planting the Chinquapin oak would be the best choice. Hopefully, you'll never have an oak wilt problem, but if you do, the Chinquapin will give you a better chance of at least having one survivor.

Besides, it's just a beautiful tree.

 


Quercus muehlenbergii

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Small tree to plant with high bush blueberry plants
May 13, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have four wonderful new highbush blueberry plants. I like to plant a native tree nearby to accent them, but cannot find a suitable one. I'd like a tree that is not going ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native pomegranate failing to fruit from Highland Village TX
October 20, 2012 - Last spring I planted a pomegranate tree (type: Wonderful) which is supposed to produce edible fruit. It had 5 or 6 absolutely beautiful blooms, but each of them dropped off and no sign of fruit. Is...
view the full question and answer

Hurricane damage on oak in Houston
April 01, 2013 - We have a very large oak tree that survived our last hurricane with lots of lost limbs. Then there was the drought. We have lost three large limbs on separate occasions on non-windy days. I love this ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Roughleaf dogwood
November 28, 2013 - We put 5 rough-leaf dogwoods along our side deck; having been told (by the local, natural plant seller) that they would reach a maximum height of 6 feet. They have grown taller than that (despite som...
view the full question and answer

Native Texas tree for anniversary in Austin
May 20, 2009 - My husband and I would like to plant a tree in our yard commemorating our 5 year anniversary (wood anniversary). What native Texas tree can we plant in June? I love Red buds and any pretty blooming ...
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