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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

QUESTION:

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,

ANSWER:

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:

Houston
Mickey Merritt
Texas Forest Service Urban Forester
2020 North Loop West, Suite 106
Houston, TX 77018
713-688-8931
mmerritt@tfs.tamu.edu

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.

 

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