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 - May 05, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Holes in trunk of Monterey Oak in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

My Monterrey Oak (about 4 in diameter) has a problem. It started budding out and had a few leafs, then just quit. It had what I thought was new buds that would develop, but didn't. Then, the existing leafs died. There are two siblings in my neighbor's yard that were started from at the same time as mine - about 3 years ago, as small home grown trees - and they seem to be OK. My tree has what looks like some kind of bore holes that are fairly evenly spaced in a horizontal line extending at least 1/2 way around the circumference. These are at 3-4 different heights on the trunk. My neighbor's trees have similar holes, but their trees apparently haven't been affected. There are several fresh growths about 5 inches high coming up around the base of my tree. Those look perfectly healthy. Is there anything I can do to help my tree recover, or is it too late?

ANSWER:

Lets address the evenly spaced holes around the trunk of your  oak tree first. These are the signature sign of the yellow-bellied sap sucker, a member of the woodpecker family. This may sound like a made-up name, but there are 2 species that are native to Texas.
Here are some links to help you become better acquainted with this pretty pest.
   dirtdoctor.com

    allaboutbirds.org

    USDA 

The holes can provide entry point for fungi or insects that can cause significant injury to the the tree. The fresh growth around the tree’s base are termed water sprouts or suckers which are sometimes caused by stress to the tree.

My suggestion is to have  someone who knows about trees look at the situation and make an assessment of your next steps. This someone could be from the Austin City Arborist, the Travis County Office of AgriLife Extension  or the the Texas Forest Service.

 

More Trees Questions

Cold hardiness of native Wild Olive in Austin
October 11, 2008 - I am considering purchasing a Mexican/Texas Olive (Cordia boissieri) at the upcoming Wildflower Center plant sale to put in my yard in east Austin. I know this tree naturally occurring range extends ...
view the full question and answer

Growth in oak tree in San Antonio
April 05, 2011 - We have a very large gorgeous oak tree in our backyard here in San Antonio, Texas. I noticed a thickness high up in the tree. Thinking it was a nest of some sort, I used binoculars and saw a parasiti...
view the full question and answer

Colony of bees nesting in sycamore
July 06, 2010 - I have a very large, old sycamore tree that has recently become home to a colony of honey bees. They have taken up dwelling in a hollow limb of the tree about 25 feet off the ground. While this is gre...
view the full question and answer

Need a shade tree to plant in Houston, TX
November 18, 2013 - Hi, i'm looking for a shade tree to plant on the southwest side of our house, both to make our backyard more enjoyable and to improve energy efficiency. We really like Live Oaks, but they just take t...
view the full question and answer

Deciduous shade tree for Inland California dry hills
July 26, 2011 - What type of tree would work well in our back yard? We're looking for a deciduous tree that doesn't grow too tall, maybe 20'. We'd like it to have spreading branches to provide shade during the su...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center