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Thursday - February 03, 2011

From: West Lake Hills, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Live oaks dying in Austin, TX?
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I had my live oak trees trimmed in October(it had been over 5 years) by a reputable Austin company. The tree canopies were not very thick to begin with, but throughout the winter, some trees have lost up to 30% of their leaves and the largest one has dropped 90% of its leaves and is now nearly barren. Is this one dying? Are they in temporary shock? Should I be doing anything for them or just wait 'til Spring? Hoping for help and praying for good news. Thank you


You were right to employ a reputable tree company to care for your trees.  Because trees add so much value - monetary and aesthetic - to our homes, we always advise folks to seek the help of certified arborists to care for their trees.

The trimming your arborist did to the tops of your trees in the fall did not cause your live oaks to go into shock.  If any major changes occured in the trees' root zones in the past year that could have caused shock.

Whenever we hear about sudden large-scale leafdrop on live oaks in central Texas, our first concern is Oak Wilt Disease.  The leaves of Oak Wilt infected live oaks will show classic signs of veinal necrosis.  If no leaves have these yellowed or orange veins, you can probably rule out Oak Wilt.

Live oaks, usually considered evergreen, are actually deciduous trees that just happen to drop the past year's leaves at the same time their new leaves are emerging.  This usually happens around the beginning of March in your area.  However, some trees can drop leaves earlier for a variety of reasons.  To be sure, we again recommend having a certified arborist visit with you and your trees to evaluate them and their health.


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