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 - May 21, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Problem with leaves of Texas Ash in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We purchased a 3' to 4' Texas Ash in March 2012. The past few days I noticed new leaves at the top are curled under, have a milky substance on them, and more than a few ladybugs on them. What is this? What do I do?


According to this USDA Plant Profile Map, Fraxinus texensis (Texas ash) is native to Travis County so we can strike that as a problem. We went to a website from Iowa State University Extension on Common Problems of Ash Trees. There were some pretty scary things, like Emerald Ash Borer, mentioned, but we think No. 19 holds the key:

"19. Leafcurl ash aphids feed on leaflets as they expand in the spring. The insect’s body is covered in white, waxy strands. Feeding causes leaflets to twist and curl. In addition, aphids secrete clear, sticky honeydew, which can speckle anything under the tree. Natural enemies usually control the aphids."

When you mentioned aphids, accompanied by ladybugs, that gave us the first clue. And the good news is, ladybugs are sworn foes of aphids. They are definitely one of the natural enemies that usually control aphids.

From a website called You Grow Girl we found this article Good Bugs, Bad Bugs: Ladybug vs. Aphid. We suggest you don't treat the problem at all, the ladybugs are handling it.


From the Image Gallery

Texas ash
Fraxinus albicans

Texas ash
Fraxinus albicans

Texas ash
Fraxinus albicans

More Trees Questions

Danger of lichens damaging trees
September 26, 2007 - My mom lives east of Buda, Texas where she has planted many different kinds of trees, which are all over 10 years old. Now, they all have a moss or lichen growing on the bark of the trees. She is worr...
view the full question and answer

Is Franklinia alatamaha (Franklin tree) a major honeybee nectar source?
January 31, 2015 - Is the Franklinia tree a major nectar source for honeybees?
view the full question and answer

Tree with tap root for small area
August 24, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: I'm looking for a tree with a tap root to plant for shade on the side of my patio. i have about a 4 foot area to plant in and it's 8 feet to my neighbors house. ..maybe somet...
view the full question and answer

Bugs on Arizona Cypress in Bellwood IL
August 27, 2011 - I live in Illinois and have an Arizona Cypress that looks like it is dying but I notice today it has bugs inside its cone. Can you tell me why and what can I do?
view the full question and answer

Fast growing shade tree for East Texas Piney Woods
April 11, 2013 - What is the fastest growing shade tree for E.Tx.Piney Woods? We have an area that desperately needs protection from the summer heat. The site is comprised of gumbo clay and there are no other plants t...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center