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

Friday - May 27, 2011

From: Trophy Club, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Problem with baldcypress tree
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Eric Beckers

QUESTION:

Two of my three 20 year old Bald Cypress trees appear to have leafed out but are now brown in parts of the tree. The brown area is at the tops of the trees which are probably 40 ft. high. They were planted where the natural drainage flows for the purpose of keeping that area from being swampy. Much to my chagrin, my neighbor has severely pruned branches that overhung on her property. I don't know if that would affect the health of these trees.

ANSWER:

I consulted with Eric Beckers of the Texas Forest Service about the problem with your Taxodium distichum (Bald cypress).  He doubts that the neighbor's activities had little to do with it, unless they're spraying weeds along a fenceline with a herbicide.  One good possibility, however, is the current drought.  Eric says that the drought has been known to cause dieback in all sorts of tree species, including the usually tough-as-nails baldcypress.  This is especially true of those baldcypress that aren't growing very close to nearly permanent sources of water.  If the trees aren't near permanent water sources, natural drainage routes during exceptional droughts can be extraordinarily dry.  Additionally, the stress of the drought can make the tree susceptible to attack by pests.  It is pretty difficult to get close to the branches that are 30-40 feet up to see what might be causing the damage, but here are some possibilities that Eric suggested that you might be able to determine from the ground:

  • If the whole branch is dying, it could possibly be squirrels.
  • If the leaves are discolored over a large area and grading back to green, it could be spider mites.
  • Clustered areas of thin and brown foliage, could indicate that there are bag worms

You can read about some of the "Damaging Agents" that do occur on the bald cypress from the US Forest Service.

 

More Trees Questions

Pruning for native oak in Houston
October 06, 2008 - I have an oak tree, and I was wondering if I prune from the top down, would it get fuller at the bottom? Or can you tell me how to prune it? I have been pruning from the bottom up and it is growing ta...
view the full question and answer

Living fence of native plants for Ojai, CA
September 20, 2008 - I would like to build a "green fence" about 10-15 feet tall. I live in Ojai, CA where we have VERY hot summers and it goes below freezing every winter. The soil does not seem to drain well..it is e...
view the full question and answer

Native maples for the Austin, TX area
May 21, 2005 - I am new to the state of Texas. I lived in Canada all of my life and miss my maple trees. Are maple trees (green or red leafed varieties) able to thrive in Austin?
view the full question and answer

Plants for full-sun landscape
November 20, 2007 - I live in a very rocky area just outside of Fort Worth, TX. It's taken me all spring, summer & now I'm going into the fall, to landscape just 30 feet in front of my house. The front of the house get...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite)
February 27, 2014 - One of our mature Honey Mesquite trees is losing thumb sized branches high up in the canopy because something is stripping the bark. The branches are completely white for 8-12 inches. Of course the ...
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