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

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 Pests Questions

Possible sawflies on loblolly pine (Pinus taeda)
May 03, 2011 - My pine trees looked great a week ago, now one from top to bottom is almost without needles. It is covered with greenish caterpillars. They have several stripes down their back . Could these be saw fl...
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming toad lily in Kentucky
April 20, 2008 - I have had a toad lily for three years and it has never bloomed. What do I need to do?
view the full question and answer

Control of invasive sandburs in Austin
May 05, 2014 - My attempts to control / eradicate Sanbur with pre-emergent corn gluten twice yeary for the last three years have been unsuccessful. My post emergent pulling weeds for 15 years has also been unsucces...
view the full question and answer

Western soapberry dropping leaves in San Antonio
June 03, 2013 - My Western Soapberry tree (China berry?) Suddenly started dropping full, perfectly healthy green, leaf units. Now half the tree is turning yellow. There is a second tree in the yard not far from this ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Monterrey Oak in Austin
March 26, 2013 - We had a local tree service plant two Monterrey Oak trees on 4/2/2012. At the time we noticed that woodpeckers had had a field day on the trunk bark of both trees with the most damage being on the lar...
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