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?


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

Thursday - February 03, 2011

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


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


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

Small tan balls on oak from Pipe Creek TX
May 21, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, our spanish oak is growing tan colored lumpy balls about the size and weight of a marshmallow..sometimes just one at the end of a short stem and sometimes 2-3 clumped together....
view the full question and answer

Pruning live oak in Austin
April 28, 2012 - Hi, We recently purchased a house in South Austin and there is a huge Live Oak Tree about 6 feet from the back door (so so so love it!) The only real issues I have so far are: 1. Needing to trim a ...
view the full question and answer

Leaves falling off live oak tree in Eureka TX
August 22, 2009 - I have the same question; it is in Navarro County in August. The leaves are falling off my live oak tree, they are brownish yellow, but it is not oak wilt. What might it be? This year I put mulch arou...
view the full question and answer

Can I grow Pawpaw in Central Texas?
May 25, 2010 - Do you have any tips for growing pawpaws (not papaya) in central texas? It appears to be at the edge or slightly beyond its range, but maybe if I'm nice to it.. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Toxicity of Fan Tex Ash tree to horses
July 22, 2012 - Is the Fan Tex Ash tree toxic to horses?
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center