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
1 rating

Monday - December 24, 2012

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Will damage to live oak root make it more susceptible to oak wilt
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi. I knicked the root of a live oak when digging. Will this hurt the tree and make it more succeptible to wilt? Is there something I can use to protect the exposed part of the root and make it less likely to turn into a problem? We don't have oak wilt in our neighborhood but I'm still nervous. I didn't realize the root was so shallow.

ANSWER:

If you read the Pruning Guidelines for Prevention on the TexasOakWilt.org page, you will see that most of the infection by the oak wilt fungus (Ceratocystis fagacearum) occurs through the interconnected root systems of the trees.   Since you don't have oak wilt in your neighborhood, it is unlikely that your tree will contract the fungus that way.  It is true that Nitidulid beetles can carry the fungus from an infected tree into wounds on other oak trees.  However, the period that beetles are active is spring—defined by the arborists studying the disease as February 1 through June 30.  The experts do recommend painting any wound with wound dressing or latex paint.  However, the recommendations that I have seen say that for the dressing to be effective, it must be applied immediately.  The sap at the site of the wound attracts the beetles, but if painted immediately the beetles are less likely to arrive in time to land at the site and leave fungus spores.  The wound on the tree is susceptible for about 3 to 4 days if left unpainted, but after that time is not likely to be contaminated.  For more information you can read To Paint or Not to Paint, That is the Question.

Since there is no oak wilt in your neighborhood and the nicking of the root occurred in December, I think it is very unlikely that your oak is going to be infected by oak wilt in the immediate future.  It would be a good idea for you to visit the Caring for Your Oaks page on the TexasOakWilt. org page.

 

More Trees Questions

Quaking Aspens in Albuquerque
October 25, 2010 - How do quaking aspens fare in north east Albuquerque?
view the full question and answer

Will smoketrees (Cotinus sp.) grow in the Texas Panhandle region
June 03, 2010 - Will smoke trees grow in the Lubbock-Amarillo, Texas region of Texas?
view the full question and answer

Looking for Manzanita (Mt. Diablo variety)
April 19, 2009 - Hi, We live in the Alhambra Valley area; in the country between Martinez and Lafayette/Orina. Can you tell me where I can purchase Manzanita, preferably Mt. Diablo variety if possible? I've aske...
view the full question and answer

Erosion controlling plants for a shady Minnesota lakeside
August 11, 2015 - I live about 50 yards from a lake and there is a steep embankment. Recently someone decided to cut the trees off the embankment and now the dirt is eroding off the embankment as well as off my back ya...
view the full question and answer

Live oak trees and possible drought stress in Lott, TX.
June 11, 2011 - One of our Live Oak trees is losing leaves in only a portion of it. I have researched Oak Wilt and I am not sure that is what it has. We have trees that are hundreds of years old and was wondering i...
view the full question and answer

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