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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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Sunday - April 24, 2011

From: Boerne, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Trees
Title: Problems with Live Oak in Boerne TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I had my large Live Oak trimmed last year. This spring there seems to be a problem with leaf growth. Most leaves are small in nature and appear to have been attacked possibly by bugs. Many of the branches, especially at the top of the tree seem almost denuded of new growth. Can you help?

ANSWER:

If we were having this conversation person-to-person, the first thing we would ask you is "when was that tree trimmed?" Read on.

We are assuming your live oak is Quercus fusiformis (Escarpment live oak), which is native to Texas and to the Hill Country. 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, Kendall County is in the Kerrville/San Antonio 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 and also those with Oak Wilt active, which includes Kendall. We would suggest you contact the Kendall County Extension Office 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 any live oak tree until at least mid-summer, and November 15 to January 15 would be better. Oak Wilt is spread by interconnected roots of oak trees 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.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

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