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 Trees Questions

Aging Arizona Ash in Austin
May 04, 2014 - Mr. Smarty Plants! I live in South Austin and just bought a house with a large, 30-40 year old Arizona Ash in the backyard. When I moved in, most of the lower branches were bare and dead and so I had ...
view the full question and answer

Repairing damage to Anacacho Orchid Tree in Austin
April 30, 2008 - Hi You Guys!! We have an understory Anacacho Orchid Tree in the front and my sweetie was trimming the big oak and dropped a branch down, splitting one of the large branches off the Anacacho. The wou...
view the full question and answer

Average lifespan of Pinchot's Juniper from Golden CO
August 23, 2011 - What is the average lifespan of Juniperus coahuilensis (syn. Juniperus texensis) trees?
view the full question and answer

Identification of Cockspur Hawthorn as Crataegus crus-galli
September 05, 2006 - What is cockspur hawthorne?
view the full question and answer

Columnar evergreen for Colorado
July 04, 2008 - I am looking for an evergreen 6-8 (or more) feet tall, very columnar; 3 feet spread in diameter, zone 5, full sun, dark green, clayish-OK soil. Thank you so much!
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