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

Monday - August 08, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Are Ashe Junipers dying from mite damage in Austin?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

If Ashe Juniper needles are turning brown and dropping off the trees because of drought, and not disease, do the needles ever come back, or have the tree limbs died? What if the cause is mites, not drought? If the needles will come back, how do you tell if a limb is dead, and not just temporarily bare?

ANSWER:

We have been hearing from all over North America on the subject of members of the Conifer family, including Ashe Juniper, suffering from mite damage. Here is a previous answer that pretty well sums up what we know about this problem, with associated links.

Various Problems of Ashe Juniper

In terms of whether the needles will come back or is the branch dead, we can't be sure. The needles that dropped off have done so because of the heat and drought. If the branch survives, they will put on new needles, because they are the "leaves" of the juniper and are needed to provide nutrition to the plant. If you want to determine if a branch is dead, try the thumbnail test. Scratch a very small sliver off the branch with your thumbnail. If there is a thin layer of green beneath that out covering, that branch is still alive.

The mites are actually taking advantage of the stressed tree. If the tree were not suffering so much they would replace the needles lost to the mites, and you wouldn't notice the damage. It would appear that the best thing we can do is wait for rain. If you have just one tree and you are concerned that it has mites, you can turn a hard spray of water on it, which will wash the mites off. They will come back, but not so quickly. If you have 30 acres of junipers, this is hardly practical; again we have to let Nature take its course.

We would advise waiting until the weather has cooled and (hopefully!) there is some rain before you make any decisions about trimming dead limbs.

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Ashe juniper
Juniperus ashei

Ashe juniper
Juniperus ashei

Ashe juniper
Juniperus ashei

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Problems with mature cottonwood in Justin TX
September 17, 2012 - I have a very large, 90" circumference, approx 60' tall, cottonwood tree in my front yard that appears to be sick. The trunk splits at about the 4' level into 2 parts. at that split is a 10" wide...
view the full question and answer

Hypoxylon Canker removal in Austin TX
March 26, 2012 - I have several oaks that appear to have been killed by Hypoxylon atropunctatum from last summer's drought. Is it safe to cut them down in March or does that risk spreading Oak Wilt too. Should I ...
view the full question and answer

Small oak tree with powdery mildew in San Antonio, TX.
May 09, 2012 - I have a small oak tree with powdery mildew. Is there anything I can do about? Will it kill the tree?
view the full question and answer

Problems with Gregg's mistflower from Fredericksburg, TX
May 19, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: Something is wilting the tops of my Gregg's mistflower, Conoclinium greggii. I cannot see bugs on the plant, so I am wondering if it's a disease. The problem is widespread to...
view the full question and answer

Brown leaf problem with herbaceous blooming plants from Greenfield MA
May 28, 2014 - I have 3 plants cimicifuga brunette and lots of astile planted near each other. Suddenly the edges of leaves have turned brown and shriveled and spread to entire plant, all of them. It has not been ...
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