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?


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


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?


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

Cool, wet summer effect on evergreen sumac
August 28, 2007 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I have 3 evergreen sumac bushes that I planted as a screen between my house and my neighbors two years ago. They are located in a part of our yard that receives a lot of runof...
view the full question and answer

Green worms on salvias
October 12, 2008 - I recently bought a "salvia blue chiquita." Some leaves were yellowing, but full of flowers and still attractive. Have had it on my deck for less than a week and have found 2 tiny greenish "worms...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing leaves of Texas Sage (Cenizo) from Las Vegas NV
November 21, 2013 - Leaves of Texas Sage are turning yellow. Can you tell me why?
view the full question and answer

Wisteria with root rot in Flower Mound, TX
July 11, 2009 - I have a wisteria that is showing rot root from an exposed wound on the side of the base. Would like to save the tree. What can I do to fix the problem.
view the full question and answer

Brown spots on native oak trees
June 16, 2015 - Hi, My native live oak trees are declining. The leaves have small brown spots that increase in size until the leaf dies and falls off, then the branch and then the entire limb. I have not watered the...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center