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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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Thursday - December 17, 2015

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Pin Oak Dropping Leaves Early
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a large pin oak that's losing it's leaves at this time. Is this too early? I have been watering the tree during the hot, dry weather and overall the tree looks healthy and has a good crop of nuts on it.

ANSWER:

Pin oak is one of the common names for several native and introduced oaks that grow throughout North America and can be referred to Quercus nigra, Quercus phellos, Quercus palustris, and Quercus ellipsoidalis. There's also plenty of confusion between red oaks and pin oaks. But regardless of the exact identity of your oak tree, there is some variance from year to year about when your oak will start to drop their leaves based on the weather. There also could be differences between the same type of oak on when they drop their leaves. If the dormant buds on your tree look healthy, then patience is all that is needed to see how the tree fares next year.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab has a good webpage about the annual Texas live oak leaf drop that also could explain your pin oak leaf drop.

Each tree can be looked upon as an individual, with specific characteristics.  Those trees may be different genetically, making one shed and produce new leaves quicker than another.  It is also possible that there are environmental and/or physical factors that influences a particular plant to shed quicker.

 

From the Image Gallery


Northern pin oak
Quercus ellipsoidalis

Pin oak
Quercus palustris

Water oak
Quercus nigra

Willow oak
Quercus phellos

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