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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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Tuesday - April 04, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Possible reasons for death of Wax Myrtle (Morella cerifera) in Austin
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Several wax myrtles in my neighborhood appear to have died. Should we have the soil or tree checked for fungus, or should we atrribute the death to freeze or age of the trees?

ANSWER:

Generally, the wax myrtle (Morella cerifera, synonym = Myrica cerifera) is a hardy plant resistant to predation and disease. It is moderately drought tolerant, but the recent drought conditions may have stressed the plants making them more susceptible to pathogens, nematodes, insects, or extreme temperatures. The Florida Extension Service of the University of Florida reports a wilt disease caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum that is lethal to the wax myrtle. If you suspect that disease has killed the plants, you can have them tested by sending them to the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (TPDDL). You need to contact your county office of the Texas Cooperative Extension to determine how to send your sample. Another suggestion is to have an arborist look at your wax myrtles to see if he or she can determine the cause of their death.
 

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