Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Sunday - August 12, 2012

From: Wimberley, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Trees
Title: Insect damage on possumhaw
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

We planted a small possumhaw in February of this year (2012). It had leaves and some berries and was doing real well until some bug starting eating the leaves and berries. I know it is not deer because it is surrounding by a cage. I have not seen any insects or caterpillars on it but the leaves have slowly been nibbled away until there are none. The plant is now putting out new sprouts on most branch tips. I realize that this has been the year of the bugs. Being new to Texas, we have seen insects that we did not know existed. Should we be concerned and should we do anything?

ANSWER:

Ilex decidua (Possumhaw) does not normally have many insect or disease problems.  I have a feeling that your possumhaw may have been stressed during one of the dry spells we have had this year.  Newly planted trees are more prone to stress than established trees. When a plant is stressed it often redirects some of the goodies it makes through photosynthesis.  Thus the leaves may get more sugars or other metabolites than normal.  This can attract insects that usually would not find the leaves tasty.  The fact that your possumhaw's branch tips are leafing out again is a good sign.  I believe that if you keep the tree well watered and mulched it will survive and resume healthy growth next year.

 

From the Image Gallery


Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Red spots on white flower of Anemopsis californica
July 05, 2009 - Do you know what the red spots are on the white flower of the California native, Anemopsis californica? Is it a fungus, insect, or just physiological?
view the full question and answer

Texas Mountain Laurel oozing sap in Spicewood, TX.
July 05, 2012 - We have a Texas mountain laurel that seems to be sweating. Oozing sap with no apparent signs of any type of bore holes, or holes made from any birds.
view the full question and answer

Recently planted Chinquapin Oak with browning leaves in Marlin, TX.
July 31, 2012 - We planted a Chinquapin Oak this in March 2012. As of July 21, 2012, the tips of the leaves on the lower branches are turning brown. We cannot see any insects. There does not appear to be any fungu...
view the full question and answer

Sap oozing from non-native Chinese pistache in San Antonio
September 07, 2011 - I live in San Antonio, and my chinese pistache is exuding copious amounts of a sticky sap from old trim sites and from the trunk itself. The tree is about 12 years old and has been healthy up until no...
view the full question and answer

Brown patches on St. Augustine grass
April 24, 2009 - I have brown patches on my st. augustine grass, it looks like the grass has rotted from standing water, but the drainage is not a problem, What could it be?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.