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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.

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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 - May 14, 2012

From: Bixby, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Problems with a Sherman (Shumard?) Oak from Bixby OK
Answered by: Barbara Medford and Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

We have done extensive research on oak fungi/diseases/pests could be affecting our Sherman Oak tree but we are stumped. The leaves are falling off and have some sort of moldy bunch within the leaf itself. We have searched all throughout the web and reviewed image searches - but nothing is matching what is happening to our leaves. The oak seems to be regenerating new leaves - and none of the neighboring Sherman Oaks seem to be contracting this same problem. I have pictures that I can email - please let us know if you are interested in seeing them. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Our first problem is that we have no idea what a "Sherman Oak" is. We cannot find the scientific name for an oak by that common name. When we googled on it, we got a number of references to Sherman Oaks CA. Finally, by rewording our search criteria several times, we found this article about the Sherman Oak Tree, which was apparently an oak tree under which General Sherman camped during the Civil War. This still doesn't tell us what species of the genus Quercus (oak) it is or was. It could be a hybrid or perhaps this was a trade name given to it by some nursery to make it more attractive to buyers.

Shortly after we published this answer, another member (and smarter than this team member) on the Mr. Smarty Plants Team ventured the possibility that the oak being referred to is Quercus shumardii (Shumard oak). Follow the plant link to our page on that oak to see if it appears to be what you have. We also found an article on the Shumard Oak from the University of Connecticut that indicates Oak Wilt will kill this tree, so we think our advice to seek the advice of a licensed arborist is good. And maybe he can tell you if it is, indeed a Shumard Oak. We checked the USDA website for this tree, and found that it is native to Tulsa County, Oklahoma.

Thank you for offering us pictures, but we are no longer set up to receive pictures. You can go to our Plant Identification page to find the names of some forum websites that will take pictures.

It sometimes helps to know that scientific name of a plant, because we can search for that on the USDA website, and also use it to identify a pest or problem. In this case, we are going to find some more general sites that might help you identify the problem or find someone who can, without knowing exactly what the tree is. In fact, we just answered a similar question about oak tree problems in Oklahoma. We suggest you read this previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer and follow the links to see if you can figure it out. And, as we did in that previous answer, we urge you to have it looked at by a licensed arborist. Not only might he be able to identify the problem, he probably can identify the tree. If he does, let us know.

 

 

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