En Español

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

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

Monday - October 03, 2011

From: Katy, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Live oak bark splitting in Katy TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We have a 7 yr old live oak that looks like its bark is splitting open in branches and top leaves look wilted. If that sounds like oak wilt, do we need to have the tree removed? We live in a subdivision. Thank you very much,


From the USDA Forestry Service, here is an article on Identify, Prevent and Control Oak Wilt. Although it is pretty lengthy you should read it all, as it covers a lot of the questions about the spread of oak wilt. The source we usually turn to, of course, is the Texas Oak Wilt Information Partnership, in which the Wildflower Center is a partner. Again, lengthy, but worthwhile reading. The main thing you need to do is look for an expert who can actually see and, hopefully, diagnose the problem. On this website, going from the home page to Getting Help, and then to Forest Service Contacts, you will find a list of the Forest Service offices and contacts. In your case, contacting the Houston area is recommended:

Mickey Merritt
Texas Forest Service Urban Forester
2020 North Loop West, Suite 106
Houston, TX 77018

There are other things that can be wrong with your oak, but the Forest Service people will know that better than we do. Since you live in a subdivision, we are assuming there are other live oaks in your neighborhood. It is essential to make a diagnosis, especially if it IS Oak Wilt, just as quickly as possible, to prevent spread to other trees.


More Trees Questions

Looking for a specimen shade tree in San Rafael, CA
June 04, 2013 - I'm looking for a specimen shade tree that can get 30'x30', that doesn't drop a bunch of crud (seeds, etc) on the patio (leaves are ok), medium to low water requirement, roots are behaved, zone 9,...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a blue spruce from Pingee Grove IL
August 30, 2012 - Transplant 18" Blue spruce from 5 gal. bucket to ground.
view the full question and answer

Why are my lemon Cyprees trees turning Black?
April 01, 2010 - I have 3 lemon Cypress plants - all are about 6 feet tall. One of them has started turning black on one side - like it's been burnt. The inside of the plant is also turning black. I assume something ...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite)
February 27, 2014 - One of our mature Honey Mesquite trees is losing thumb sized branches high up in the canopy because something is stripping the bark. The branches are completely white for 8-12 inches. Of course the ...
view the full question and answer

Plants to filter dust from a road in MD
June 01, 2011 - I live in MD next to a dirt/gravel access road. I would like to plant something along my property line to block the clouds of dust we regularly get from cars and dirt bikes. Is there something fast ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center