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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 - July 14, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Problem with flameleaf sumac (Rhus lanceolatta)
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

My Flameleaf Sumac appears to have an insect infestation in the bark which oozes a sappy sticky substance. This has apparently caused one of the limbs to die. Will it kill the whole plant and is there anything I can do?

ANSWER:

At the Wildflower Center we have noted cicadas ovipositing in the Rhus lanceolata (prairie sumac) tree trunks and limbs causing a lot of oozing sap and killing some limbs. This might be the cause of your problem. In extreme cases, it could kill the tree and because sumacs are prone to fungal diseases, it would definitely make them more prone to disease problems. Prevention is the best way to treat the problem of cicadas ovipositing—some people put small-mesh netting over their small, vulnerable trees in mid summer to fend off cicadas. At the Wildflower Center we have no shortage of sumacs and since they are relatively short-lived trees anyway, we do not treat them since they are easy to replace. You might contact the Travis County Agricultural Extension Service office to see if they have had other reports of cicada damage or any other types of damage in sumac trees and how to treat it. Here is some information about periodical cicadas.

 


Rhus lanceolata

Rhus lanceolata

Rhus lanceolata

Rhus lanceolata

 

 

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