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?

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

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

Saturday - August 04, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Problems with Cedar Elm in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Our Cedar Elm has yellowing very dry leaves and something is eating the topmost leaves leaving holes and obviously chewed off leaf segments. Could this be two different things? Aphids and bacteria or Dutch Elm? We planted the Treefolks sapling four years ago. It has adequate water, a mulch berm, has not been sprayed and we are concerned about insecticides, but will try anything. Thanks!

ANSWER:

Cedar ElmUlmus crassifolia (Cedar elm) with its glossy green leaves, smaller than those of American Elm, is an attractive landscape plant.  (more info) 

Mr. Smarty Plant has found that is is very hard to diagnose tree problems from a written description, but you have given some clues that will allow some reasonable guesses. Along with my guesses, I will provide some links that will help you determine what the problem may be.

The symptoms you describe; yellowing , dry leaves with the top-most leaves showing evidence of a chewing insect perhaps, could be caused by several things, but Dutch Elm Disease is probably not one of them.

Dutch Elm Disease (DED) is caused by the fungus Ophiostoma novo-ulmi which is introduced to the tree by the native elm bark beetle, Hylurgopinus rufipes and the lesser European bark beetle, Scolytus multistriatus.

The first symptom observed in American elm is yellow foliage on one or more branches, from late spring to midsummer. The affected foliage soon becomes wilted and brown; this symptom is called "flagging." This doesn’t sound like what you described. These three links have more information about the disease.

     texasinvasives.org

    USDA Forest Service

    University of Illinois

Yellowing can be a symptom caused by an aphid infestation, which seems to be common in Austin this summer. This link from  UC Davis  describes the pests and possible control measures.

Another pest  that could account for the yellowing is spidermites. Reading the two links below could make you a neighborhood expert on these little plant suckers.

      Colorado State University

      UC Davis 

Bacterial leaf scorch can cause yellowing, but the images shown in these two sources don’t look to me like what you described.

     Bartlett Tree Research

     The United States Nattional Arboretum

Since aphids and spidermites lack chewing mouth parts, we can’t blame the chewed leaves on them, however a possible culprit could be the Elm leaf beetle. The two links below give details about these destructive bugs.

    Colorado State University 

     University of Illinois 

The bottom line is that you need someone knowledgeable about tree sto take a look at your elm tree to make an assessment of the situation. This person could be a Certified Arborist , or someone from the Travis County Office of Texas AgriLife Extension.

 

From the Image Gallery


Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

More Trees Questions

Fast-growing evergreens for privacy in Center, TX
March 30, 2010 - I live in East Texas and am looking for a fast growing evergreen for a privacy screen around my backyard. The area gets partial sun and the soil has a lot of clay in it.
view the full question and answer

Quercus polymorpha botanical name for Mexican white oak
June 19, 2007 - What is the scientfic name for the Monterrey Oak?
view the full question and answer

Planting a tulip poplar in Virginia Beach VA
November 10, 2009 - Hi. I would like to plant a Yellow Poplar, 'Tulip Tree' in my front yard. I will not be able to plant this tree until after November 15th. The tree will receive direct sun and will be exposed to hea...
view the full question and answer

Leaf problems on Arizona ash in New Braunfels, TX
August 07, 2010 - I have an Arizona Ash tree that is 10 years old. The leaves have brown spots all over and then eventually the leaves curl up and fall off the tree. Is this a fungus or a bacterial infestation? What...
view the full question and answer

Decline of mesquite and persimmon trees in San Antonio
September 07, 2009 - We have lived in a house in San Antonio for about 30 years now and in the last 5 years, we have seen the decline of several mesquite and wild persimmon trees. I am wondering what would cause their de...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center