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

Saturday - April 30, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Is it live oak sprouts or parasites from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

You must get tired of questions about "Live Oak sprouts." I just read your recent Q&A about this. But I'm getting mixed info about whether the "sprouts" are actually Live Oak growth of some sort or a parasite. The leaves are very different than Live Oak leaves which seems to support the parasite theory. Can you clarify please? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Trust us, we know what you are saying. We had one question saying they had holly sprouts all around their live oak. Except there were no holly bushes around, but the leaves on the sprouts looked like holly leaves. We can't swear they were oak sprouts because we weren't there, but our strong suspicion is that they were. Even identifying a full grown tree from its leaves is not always easy. They can take different shapes and/or appearances at different stages of their development, under different environmental conditions, at varying times of the year, even depending on the amount of sun or water that is reaching that part of the tree. Other than mistletoe, which exists in the upper branches of trees, we know of no parasitic plant that infests oak trees. If they are under an oak tree, and radiating out from it, you can be pretty sure that they are sprouts of the tree. If you want more concrete proof, dig down around that sprout and pretty soon you will come to a bigger root, from which the sprout grows. Bingo, you have found the origin, which is one of the main roots of the oak.

From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants Question:

"Sorry, but the only safe way to get rid of those sprouts is to cut them off. You can dig down and cut them off below ground. They will still return but it will take them a little longer to come back out again than if you cut them off at or above the surface. Any sort of herbicide you might use will affect the growth of the parent tree and I'm sure you don't want that to happen. According to John Begnaud, horticulturist, writing in Go San Angelo:

'To date, there are no repellants, hormones or chemical sprays that reliably suppress or remove these suckers without harming the mother trees. Hand grubbing or deeproot pruning can reduce these suckers for a few years at best and then they will return.'

You can read the answer to a previous question concerning the problem of live oak sprouts."

 

 

More Trees Questions

Colony of bees nesting in sycamore
July 06, 2010 - I have a very large, old sycamore tree that has recently become home to a colony of honey bees. They have taken up dwelling in a hollow limb of the tree about 25 feet off the ground. While this is gre...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on arborvitaes
March 28, 2005 - Hello, I live in Allentown, PA and have a 7-foot arborvitae shrub in my backyard, planted in the corner of the yard where a wood fence intersects with the brick wall of the garage. I have had ma...
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

Native substitute for traditional Christmas tree
December 01, 2007 - Could you give some recommendations for a substitute of the traditional Christmas tree used during the holiday season? The low light/humidity conditions in the home is a challenge under any circumsta...
view the full question and answer

White ash trees with bunched up leaves from Nevada TX
June 09, 2012 - I have very young white ash trees (3' tall planted this winter) The leaves are crippled not opening up bunched up together and have a white powder. Is this aphids mites or what. Only on one tree. Th...
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