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
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 Diseases and Disorders Questions

Northern Catalpa Tree Doing Poorly
July 02, 2014 - One of our Northern Catalpa trees appears to be dying. It is about 28 feet tall and this year only about 1/3 of it is producing leaves. It is next to our largest Catalpa tree (about 65 feet tall and a...
view the full question and answer

New growth on Amur Maple turning black in McPherson, Kansas.
June 29, 2010 - Re: Amur Maple bushes Approximately 2 yrs old, 4 ft tall. New growth at the end of some branches is turning black. Plants are mulched with grass clippings. We live in Kansas. Thanks for any info....
view the full question and answer

Problems with Escarpment black cherry from Ponder TX
February 11, 2011 - I have an escarpment black cherry that is about three years old and about 9 feet tall. It was healthy until this last summer when its began to bark peel and sap run out at the base of the tree. The af...
view the full question and answer

Trumpet creeper with ants in Belchertown MA
July 23, 2011 - My Campsis Vine is having one of the maximum blossom years it gets after a good pruning. This year, I have black carpenter ants on the blossoms and the flowers are rotting from the edges down on some...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of oak wilt in red oak in Austin
December 25, 2010 - I planted a Red oak tree in Austin January 2008. It was container grown but decent size, over 15ft tall. This summer (2010) its leaves turned color as if it were fall and started dropping. I starte...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center