Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - February 03, 2011

From: West Lake Hills, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Live oaks dying in Austin, TX?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I had my live oak trees trimmed in October(it had been over 5 years) by a reputable Austin company. The tree canopies were not very thick to begin with, but throughout the winter, some trees have lost up to 30% of their leaves and the largest one has dropped 90% of its leaves and is now nearly barren. Is this one dying? Are they in temporary shock? Should I be doing anything for them or just wait 'til Spring? Hoping for help and praying for good news. Thank you

ANSWER:

You were right to employ a reputable tree company to care for your trees.  Because trees add so much value - monetary and aesthetic - to our homes, we always advise folks to seek the help of certified arborists to care for their trees.

The trimming your arborist did to the tops of your trees in the fall did not cause your live oaks to go into shock.  If any major changes occured in the trees' root zones in the past year that could have caused shock.

Whenever we hear about sudden large-scale leafdrop on live oaks in central Texas, our first concern is Oak Wilt Disease.  The leaves of Oak Wilt infected live oaks will show classic signs of veinal necrosis.  If no leaves have these yellowed or orange veins, you can probably rule out Oak Wilt.

Live oaks, usually considered evergreen, are actually deciduous trees that just happen to drop the past year's leaves at the same time their new leaves are emerging.  This usually happens around the beginning of March in your area.  However, some trees can drop leaves earlier for a variety of reasons.  To be sure, we again recommend having a certified arborist visit with you and your trees to evaluate them and their health.

 

More Trees Questions

Native specimen tree for Houston, Texas
September 23, 2009 - Looking for recommendations for a specimen tree to flank our front steps. Evergreen, 15 feet tall, maybe 10 feet wide. Will be near icee blue Japanese yews and nearly wild rose bushes. Ideas?
view the full question and answer

What shade trees have non-invasive root systems?
March 03, 2015 - What shade trees have a non-invasive root system? I am in zone 7a. Thank you, Mr. Smarty Plants!
view the full question and answer

Tree with tap root for small area near Dallas
September 07, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Coppell, TX (a suburb of Dallas) & am looking for a tree to plant near our pool to provide some shade. The current tree (a silver leaf maple) is dying. My husband thi...
view the full question and answer

Protection of Mountain Laurel from Pyralid or Genista moth caterpillars
May 28, 2006 - I have a Texas Mountain Laurel. Every year it is attacked by caterpillars. They form a bag for lack of a better word on the ends of the branches destroying the blooms for the following year. PLEASE...
view the full question and answer

How do you determine male persimmon seedlings from the females?
May 11, 2013 - I have got new persimmon seedlings about 3 inches tall this spring, and am wondering if there is any way to tell male from female at this young stage? I just don't want to plant 20 or 40 seedlings an...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.