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

Plants for oak shade from Whitney TX
December 24, 2012 - I live in Whitney, Texas and have a number of beautiful Live Oak trees in a portion of my yard providing deep shade. Asian Jasmine grows in about 5 ft circle around them and then nothing! I have walk ...
view the full question and answer

Time to transplant shade tree seedlings from San Antonio
September 28, 2013 - What month do you transplant shade tree seedlings in San Antonio, TX<
view the full question and answer

Problems with Shumard Oaks and Crepe Myrtle in Cooke Co. TX
September 07, 2013 - I have a Shumard Oak Tree that has been in the ground approx. ten years. It has done great, even passing up some of my older Shumards. In August it began to lose its leaves at an alarming rate. They a...
view the full question and answer

Climbing options for a Coral honeysuckle in Austin Texas
April 16, 2013 - Regarding Coral honeysuckle, what is the best support to encourage continued spread, chicken-wire/fencing? Currently the plants and vines are on fencing and beginning to fold over. I'd like to add...
view the full question and answer

Browning leaves on recently planted chinkapin oak in Rockwall TX
June 09, 2010 - I just planted a chinkapin oak that is about 1 1\2 inches thick last week and now some of the leaves are turning brown. Does that mean its dying? Do you have any tips that I could use to protect it?
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center