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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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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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Sunday - September 26, 2010

From: Mansfield, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Problem with oak trees in Mansfield, Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have lost 2 large oaks last year & now another is nearly gone. It has several large patches of missing bark - beneath a thin layer of skin-like membrane that seemed to separate it from the bark is black. A nearby tree has several small areas that look the same. I am sending an email with a picture to accompany this. I hope you can help me with what is wrong with our trees.

ANSWER:

From your description and from the photo of your oak tree that you sent it appears that it is probably hypoxylon canker, a fungal disease.  Here is more information from East Texas Gardening of the TAMU AgriLife Extension Service and from Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.  As you will read in these two articles, there isn't really anything you can do to save the trees that have been infected already.  Assuring that your other trees are in a healthy condition can prevent them from being infected.  Stress, such as drought and injury to the trunk, make trees susceptible to infection.  You might consider contacting the Tarrant County AgriLife Extension Office to see if they have more information about the disease in the county.  They also have an "Ask an Expert" feature that you might like to use to see if they have suggestions on maintaining your uninfected trees.  The Texas Forest Service also has an "Ask the Experts" feature.

 

 

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