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
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 Diseases and Disorders Questions

Waxy deposits on Magnolia fuscata from Ethel LA
June 18, 2013 - I have a 4yr old Magnolia Fascata (aka banana shrub)- I noticed that it has small oval shaped yellow waxy deposits on the branches.. I have also noticed small black ants on the branches. The unknown d...
view the full question and answer

Care of Styphnolobium affine, Eves necklace
October 05, 2007 - I have an 18 yr old Eve's Necklace tree that is dying from the "bottom up". It has only a few leaves at the very top of the tree. I have, connected to the gutter, a rain barrel from which the exc...
view the full question and answer

What's that sticky stuff on plants under many trees?
August 23, 2010 - Here in Austin, I've recently noticed a sticky film appearing on shrubs, flowers, grass, etc. under many trees. It appears to be coming from the trees under which they are planted. The sticky film ...
view the full question and answer

Control of sooty mold from aphids in Crape Myrtle
February 25, 2007 - I have a crape myrtle in my front flower bed that has a sooty black substance on the leaves and trunk. I've done research and understand this is caused by aphids. My question is how do I get the bl...
view the full question and answer

Esperanza with rust spots in Corpus Christi, TX
November 30, 2009 - I have a young esperanza plant and the leaves have what looks like rust spots all over them. What is the cause of this and what can I do for it? My other larger and older esperanza does not have this....
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center