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Mr. Smarty Plants - Problems with live oak in Carrollton TX

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Sunday - April 03, 2011

From: Carrollton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Problems with live oak in Carrollton TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

This past winter was very hard on all the trees in our area in Texas, but added to our stress was the loss of three large Bradford pears just prior to the winter (23yrs old and over 50ft spans of limbs) - but my question is about the two remaining live oaks we have in the back yard. One looks like it will be fine-the brown leaves which were very sparse after the ice and freezing temps this winter have begun to get new growth, but one (our largest and oldest of the trees - at least 30 yrs old) started to do the same thing, but its newer leaves have turned to a strange shade of brown now.. not the nice green like the other tree - what is wrong? This tree was not damaged by the removal of the other trees, but it seems unwell - please advise me what we should do.

ANSWER:

We want to remind you that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants are being grown. You did not ask what had happened to your Bradford pears, native to Korea and Japan, but they are known to have problems and not be very long-lived.

So, on to your live oak, which is native to Texas. There are several things that could be causing the problems with your tree, and none of them are good. We are going to refer you to several sites where you can get more information, but we urge you to contact a professional arborist to come and look at the tree right away. Read this article on Oak Wilt from the Texas Oak Wilt Information Partnership. According to this Texas Forest Service list of contacts, the three counties in which Carrollton resides are in the Granbury District. There is contact information for the Forest Service on that page. This map shows the Texas counties with Master Gardener/Master Naturalist Oak Wilt Specialists. We would suggest you contact either the Collin County or the Denton County Extension Offices for more help.

You understand Oak Wilt is not the only thing that could be causing the problem in your live oak, but you need specialists on the spot to tell you that. And don't, whatever you do, trim or prune that oak tree until at least mid-summer, and January would be better. Oak Wilt is spread by interconnected roots of oak trees which means your other oak may be in danger, but it is also spread by the nitiludid beetle. When an oak tree is damaged, even by pruning, it will exude sap which the beetle loves. If he has already been to a diseased tree and fed on the sap, he will have picked up some of the fungus that causes Oak Wilt on his body. If your tree is diseased, he will pick up the disease from the sap from it and take it to other oak trees. Please read all the information we have linked you to and act as soon as you can.

 

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