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

Eco-friendly trees for parks in Brownsville, TX
April 26, 2008 - Which are the best eco friendly trees for parks?
view the full question and answer

Protecting a non-native Meyer Lemon from Freezing in Austin
January 05, 2013 - What is the best way to protect my Meyer Lemon tree from freezing Austin weather? It has been planted in my yard for 1 year and is about 4 feet high
view the full question and answer

Flowering Dogwood for NY
February 21, 2011 - Hello - can you advise me on a disease-resistant/hardy dogwood? Every nursery I've visited has discouraged me from planting dogwoods. What would you recommend? I live in Westchester County, NY
view the full question and answer

Sun-scorched Cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana)
June 24, 2009 - I live in south Central Texas 30 miles north of San Antonio. I am looking for a good evergreen hedge plant that once established will not die if I forget to water it a few days and is deer resistant....
view the full question and answer

Cedar trees dying in CO
July 18, 2011 - We have mature cedar trees at the home we bought in SW Colorado. The large ones have begun to die. Can too much water kill a cedar tree and is there anything I can do to keep them alive?
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