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

Do Deer Eat Orchid Trees?
March 08, 2013 - I have planted three anacacho orchid trees, however we have a lot of deer around us. Is this a tree they will want to eat? Do you have any ideas to keep deer away?
view the full question and answer

Acorns for craft project in Santa Rosa CA
October 05, 2009 - Where can I find mature northern red oaks, northern pin oaks in Santa Rosa, CA 95404 in order to get their cute chubby acorns for a craft project I'm doing?
view the full question and answer

Sun-scorched Cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana)
June 24, 2009 - I live in south Central Texas 30 miles north of San Antonio. I am looking for a good evergreen hedge plant that once established will not die if I forget to water it a few days and is deer resistant....
view the full question and answer

Plants under an oak tree from Corpus Christi TX
June 30, 2012 - My project: To grow white turk's cap under an old oak tree I first planted St. Augustine sod this spring because we had many oak suckers around the tree. We mixed new soil and compost, and laid the ...
view the full question and answer

Mediterranean Pines indigenous to Verde Valley AZ
January 01, 2012 - Are the tall, thin Mediterranean/Pencil Pines growing in the Verde Valley in Arizona indigenous to the area? They are so plentiful, but are not identified as an indigenous evergreen. If not, how did...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center