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 Trees Questions

Inadvisability of mounding earth around tree in ring
April 20, 2006 - We have a mimosa tree in our backyard. My husband wants to build a tree ring around it. My mother told me that some trees will die from having soil built up around it like that. Will a tree ring ki...
view the full question and answer

Leaves on maple turning red in June in Pittsburgh PA
August 01, 2010 - We live in PA and have a medium sized maple tree in our back yard. It is not a red maple. This year, in June, the very top of the tree's foliage turned bright red. This bright red started at the t...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade under pine trees in Grapevine TX
May 16, 2010 - What plants are good to put under pine trees in the shade? I live in the Dallas Fort Worth area? The previous owners stuck a Japanese Maple in there that seems to be ok and some sort of holly bush (n...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing evergreen tree to hide power lines
April 10, 2009 - Live in Orange Connecticut and need a tree that grows fast and tall to cover the power lines which are quite tall. I'm thinking evergreen type trees so that the during the winter it provides the cov...
view the full question and answer

Shade Tree for Sunny California Yard
April 03, 2015 - I am getting ready to sell my home in Van Nuys, California. My home had a beautiful fruitless mulberry that had to be removed. My front door faces west. The house is now very hot. I would like to know...
view the full question and answer

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