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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.

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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: Elgin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Weeping live oak and beetles in Elgin TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a live oak that I just noticed is weeping from a small spot about 3' above ground, foamy and smells like beer, several beetle species attracted. Also some very small insects in the foamy area.

ANSWER:

Oh, dear, we hate to hear that. Tis the season, I guess. Because we just answered a very similar question, we are going to largely repeat it to save time. Read on.

We are assuming your live oak is Quercus fusiformis (Escarpment live oak), which is native to Texas and to Central Texas. 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, Elgin, in Travis County, is in the Austin area. 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 Travis and Bastrop. We would suggest you contact the Travis County or the Bastrop County Extension Office for more help.

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.

 

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