Contact Us Host an Event 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?


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

Monday - November 17, 2014

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Oak Wilt in Georgetown, TX
Answered by: Larry Larson


We have lost several live oaks to oak wilt. Another couple are dying but still have some green leaves. Is it OK to cut down these trees now or should we wait until they are entirely dead? I've heard early removal will result in the wilt spreading to other trees nearby more quickly.


   Hmmm, I’ve not heard that one.  There is quite a bit of question/answer discussion with Mr Smarty Plants with respect to Oak Wilt.  I’ll quote them next.  Our recommended time to trim Oaks is November to January, making this a good time to cut the Oak trees.  There are three mechanisms commonly quoted for the spread of the wilt.  One is transfer by infected tools [perhaps the source of your comment on early removal?]. The second is a similar mechanism of transfer via the Nitidulid beetle from a cut infected tree to a new victim, this is why trimming in November to January is recommended [or the heat of summer].  The third is from tree to tree via their intertwined root systems.  This mechanism would argue for removal of infected trees.  In all cases, the earlier the treatment or removal of infected trees, the better.

Here are several of those question/answer pairs, that should give you a sense of direction for this.

Trimming of Escarpment Oak from Austin 
When is it time to remove diseased oak trees in Belton, TX?
Time for trimming oaks from Boerne TX
Possibility of oak wilt in red oak in Austin  
When is the best time to trim oak trees in Driftwood TX?
Safe time to trim live oak trees 
Best time to trim oak trees to avoid oak wilt  

   This is a serious decision though.  I would recommend the help of professionals.  More information and references can be found at Good sources could also be someone from the Williamson County office of Texas Agrilife Extension, someone from the Texas Forest Service , or a Certified Arborist . They should be able steer you well.


From the Image Gallery

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Fungal root rot in non-native Shasta daisies in Channahon IL
July 21, 2009 - HELP! My Shasta daisies have fungal root rot. Is there any way to save them? I've been removing the browned stems. I'm so sad.
view the full question and answer

White specks on unknown houseplant from Ridgeway SC
June 20, 2013 - I have an unknown houseplant that seems to have some sort of pest or disease on it. It has white snowy specks atop its leaf. I bought this purple fuzzy leafed houseplant from Walmart in Winnsboro, SC ...
view the full question and answer

Splitting bark on non-native mimosa from Buda TX
June 24, 2012 - What would cause my Mimosa tree to have splitting bark. I've only lived in this house for 8 months and am learning about this tree. The other tree seems fine. It looks as though it split and then ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Oleanders
June 11, 2005 - I have 3 Nerium Oleanders. In the winter they come indoors, and are under grow lights. They are in big pots. We just put them outside on patio, and they don't look good. They still have green tips ...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing leaves on weeping willow
August 03, 2008 - We have a 4 year old Weeping Willow, 12+/- ft. tall and this week the leaves are starting to become yellow. This willow is full and robust in appearance, best it's ever looked. We have 2 other Wee...
view the full question and answer

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