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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - June 10, 2013

From: South Bend, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Trees
Title: What's causing holes in trunk of white oak tree in SouthBend IN?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


We have a huge White Oak in our backyard that is approx. 130 years old. This evening I became aware that there are several small holes around the trunk that appear to be oozing a dark sappy liquid. The holes are soft if you poke at them. I can see no insects around the holes. Should I be concerned? We do not want to lose this tree as it is beautiful and shades our entire backyard. I read three other responses, but you were talking about a beetle found in TX and I was curious if you thought we could possibly have a similar problem.


Mr. Smarty Plants is thinking that if he had 130 year old oak with holes oozing sap, he would get a knowledgeable person to take a look at it. It’s hard to diagnose a problem like this long distance. That knowledgeable person could be someone from the St. Joseph County Office of Purdue Extension or a certified arborist.

There is a bird that lives in Indiana, the yellow bellied sap  sucker, that bores holes in trees and uses the sap that comes out as food.  This could be your culprit, and your County Extension Agent could tell for sure.


More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Identification of gooseberry plant
July 12, 2007 - Grew up in Colorado, our yard and several near us had medium to large size deciduous shrubs that produced small (.25"-.375") red berries that were very tomato-like. Delicate with a thin skin, sligh...
view the full question and answer

Native Annual Plant Substitute for Impatiens
May 11, 2013 - What can be used as an annual flowering plant to substitute for the diseased impatiens? Is Vinca one you would suggest?
view the full question and answer

Precautions regarding pruning live oaks in the Austin area.
October 27, 2015 - Is it still recommended that we clean pruning shears and spray wounds when pruning live oaks in the Austin area?
view the full question and answer

What about the brown dots on my Silver sage?
June 27, 2008 - During the past year, the leaves on my silver sage bushes around the perimeter of the front of my house have turned yellow in places and there are tiny brown dots on virtually all of the leaves. If I ...
view the full question and answer

Mountain Laurel suffering from Spring freeze
May 12, 2015 - I have a 4 1/2 ft Texas Mountain Laurel shrub in current location for several years. A hard freeze this spring killed every leaf on the tree, but the stems remained green. My other smaller Mt. Laure...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center