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

Wednesday - April 27, 2011

From: Winston-Salem, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Live Oak Leaf Drop in North Carolina
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

We planted a 15 foot, approx. 3" caliber live oak tree last summer and it seemed very healthy throughout our unusually cold winter in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. (Winston-Salem). Now it's late April, the leaves have dropped and there seems to be no new growth. We have about 3-4" of mulch around the tree and the season so far has been very wet, so I don't think water is the issue. The tree is bare, with 'nodules' at the ends of the twigs/branches that I thought were buds. When I try to break off a twig, it is very green. I did insert 2 tree/plant spikes in early March about 4 feet away from the trunk. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

I suspect your live oak is Quercus virginiana (Coastal live oak). These trees are usually thought of as evergreens, but they actually shed their leaves every spring. In most cases, the leaf drop happens at the same time as new leaves come out, so the tree usually never goes bare (although it may lose color and appear less healthy). It may be that your cold winter has delayed the new leaves coming out, resulting in a bare tree.

Two pieces of advice:

First, be patient. The fact that you see green when you break a twig is good. That indicates the limb is alive. The "nodule" you describe very likely is a bud.

Second, look around. Are the other live oaks you see in a similar condition? If yours is significantly less leafed out than the others, it may be time to call in a professional arborist.


Quercus virginiana

 

 

More Trees Questions

Evergreen tree for Phoenix
November 17, 2013 - I need your help. I'm looking for a pretty evergreen tree for my small front yard in Phoenix. One that is not horribly messy and doesn't get wider that 10 - 15 ft. I want to be able to decorate at...
view the full question and answer

Determination of the sex of Mexican persimmon (Diospyros texana)
January 30, 2008 - Last spring, I planted a persimmon fruit from a Mexican Persimmon. I now have 6 small seedlings coming up. Since they all came from the same seed source - 1 black persimmon, will they all be male tree...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting redbud from field in Edmond, OK
March 30, 2009 - I want to transplant a small redbud from a field to my yard. The trunk diam is about 1.5" and the tree is about 4' tall. What is the best way to do this? Should I plant it in a pot first?
view the full question and answer

Leaves on Spanish oaks in Hays County TX dying
April 18, 2009 - I have many Spanish Oaks on my Hays County property. The leaves started blooming last week, but this week all the young leaves are brown and appear to be dying. This is happening to all the otherwise ...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen trees for Long Island, NY
September 20, 2007 - I live on across from the water on the north shore of Long Island. I would like the names of some hardy trees that are both native to Long Island and also NOT deciduous! I am finding it easy to find...
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