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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - May 25, 2015

From: Kingsland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Trees
Title: Falling Balls from an Oak in Kingsland TX
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I have a large Live Oak in the back yard, with St. Augustine grass under it. It is April 3, 2015. The leaves have fallen and now little tiny round balls are falling. I am hearing a popping noise under the tree all over the grass. Is this the Live Oak doing this?

ANSWER:

There have been a few Mr Smarty Plants question/answer pairs that sound a bit like this question, it sounds like your balls could either be flowers, immature acorns or oak galls depending on size and shape.  Heres some discussions to consider:

Acorns:
Abundance of acorns from Wimberley TX:   
The first picture below is labeled "Flower Buds"

Galls:

Identity of small objects that look like tiny pecans: 
Small tan balls on oak from Pipe Creek TX  
Leaf Galls on Live Oak  

A couple of these answers included the excellent suggestion to contact the local extension office.  As you’re in-between, here are the web addresses for both the Burnett County Extension Office and the Llano County Extension Office.  While at it, I also found that Prairie View A&M Cooperative Extension Program has an online article on Round Balls on Live Oaks, this indicates it might be caused by a small wasp.

 

From the Image Gallery


Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

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