Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Evergreen low litter tree for Surprise AZ
March 19, 2010 - Looking for a shade tree about 10-15 ft max with low litter and green all year round/full sun.
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Callery Pear tree from Louisville KY
June 03, 2013 - I have a Cleveland select that has a bark issue. It is on its second season and I just saw this. It looks like the bark is bubbling up kinda and then wants to peel off the main trunk. I have a picture...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for under a pine tree in Vevay IN
June 29, 2009 - At our office we have a very nice garden however, in the front we have a large pine tree. We cannot get anything to take root & live there. Do you have any suggestions for a native shrub or perennia...
view the full question and answer

Encouraging branch growth of live oak trees in Austin
February 10, 2009 - I recently had an elm tree cut down that was crowding out 2 live oak trees in my front yard. The oaks have no branches on the sides that were next to the elm. The elm stump is still there. I need to ...
view the full question and answer

Care of lemon cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa)
June 09, 2008 - How do I care for a Lemon Cypress tree? Does it require a lot of sun? How often should I water it? It is 18" high and I have it in a pot on my screen porch. Thank-you
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.