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
1 rating

Tuesday - March 20, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Leaf Galls on Live Oak
Answered by: Becky Ruppel

QUESTION:

Hi - I have a live oak tree that always seems to have thinner foliage than our other two. Upon closer examination today I found small brown balls all over the mature leaves. The balls look and feel very much like peppercorns. What is this, and is this a danger to the tree? I did read the other post about Woody oak twig galls but based on that post I don't think that is what is going on here. Thank you for your time.

ANSWER:

The tree in question sounds like it has leaf galls formed by the Mealy Oak Gall Wasp Disholcaspis cinerosa.  This wasp forms both stem and leaf galls depending on the stage in its life-cycle.  Galls are formed when an insect (in this case a type of tiny wasp) lays an egg just under the surface of a stem or leaf.  A gall is formed because the tree is stimulated by the presence of the egg, and eventually the hatched larvae, to grow a structure around the wounded area.  Galls are very common in oaks and are not considered harmeful to the health of trees.

For more detalied information about Mealy Oak Gall Wasp see the Mr. Smarty Plants post by Nan Hampton that talks about the specifics of the wasp, its reproduction, life-cycle, and affect on trees. 

The links in that post appear to no longer work. Below are updated links for the information cited in that answer about Mealy Oak Gall Wasps. 

"The Mealy Oak Gall on Ornimental Live Oaks in Texas"

"Gall Making Insects and Mites"

 

More Pests Questions

Horse ate bark of cedar elm from Liberty Hill, TX
February 20, 2013 - I have three acres with a rental. Planted a Cedar Elm near the porch. My ex-renters allowed their horse to graze around the house. It ate the bark off of the tree. How can I save this tree?
view the full question and answer

Live oak trees buzzing in Taylor TX
October 20, 2012 - Is it possible for live oak trees to make a buzzing sound? We have heard this sound under our live oak and were worried it was bees but we don't seem to see any. I also heard the buzzing under my mot...
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of Aphids on Asclepias plants in Brea, CA.
July 23, 2012 - I grow asclepsias or MILKWEED for the benefit of Monarchs. At times I have aphids consuming the leaves. How can I destroy the aphids without harming the Monarch eggs? Thank you very much.
view the full question and answer

Sap dripping from redbud in Bertram, TX
March 03, 2014 - Our multi-trunked Texas redbud has sap dripping down 3 of the trunks. It seems to originate from a very small crack in each trunk. The tree is just starting to show pink this week, and is about to blo...
view the full question and answer

Do white-tailed deer consume King Ranch bluestem?
October 25, 2013 - Will white-tail deer in central Texas consume King Ranch bluestem ?
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