Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - March 26, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Trees
Title: Problems with Monterrey Oak in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We had a local tree service plant two Monterrey Oak trees on 4/2/2012. At the time we noticed that woodpeckers had had a field day on the trunk bark of both trees with the most damage being on the largest of the two. The largest tree's diameter about 3 feet above the ground is approximately 4 inches. We asked the tree service representative about the woodpecker damage and were told that it wasn't a problem; the trees would recover when planted, watered and established. The trees did survive (today is 3/18/2013) but the larger one has lost about 3/4 of its bark around the trunk with bare wood visible from almost the ground to the first branches (about 4-5 feet). There is a redish powder in some areas where the bark was but no sign of any bugs or bores. AND, of course, the woodpeckers are attacking the remaining bark on the other side of the trunk. I do have digital photos I can send. The question is will the tree survive ?

ANSWER:

We are sorry, we can no longer accept photos, so we will do some research to see if we can figure out what is going on. As it happens, according to this USDA Plant  Profile Map Quercus polymorpha (Mexican white oak), also known as Monterrey Oak,  is not native to Travis County but, in Texas, only to Val Verde County. That means that it is already acclimated to high heat and drought, so we don't think that is the problem.

Frankly, we think your tree service should come and look at it. It should have had some sort of warranty on it, and if you bought in April of last year, you should get it looked at quickly, in case it was a one-year warranty. Even if you don't have a warranty, a reputable tree service should be willing to take responsibility for the fix or replacement.

In this article, Woodpecker and Sapsucker Problems, it appears sapsuckers are the most dangerous to trees. Here is an article on Sapsuckers. We think it most likely that if you have them in the Austin area, they would be the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. The link we just gave you should help identify them.

Since your problem sounds more severe, let's talk about the damage to the bark. If the loss of bark results in the complete girdling of the tree, the tree will die. Read this article "Loss of tree bark around state might be linked to drought" by Bruce Keitler.

 

From the Image Gallery


Mexican white oak
Quercus polymorpha

Mexican white oak
Quercus polymorpha

Mexican white oak
Quercus polymorpha

More Trees Questions

Tiny holes oozing sap from Austin
August 22, 2012 - My ash tree becomes loaded with butterflies on the trunk. At closer inspection, I see they are drinking sap which is coming from small holes in the trunk. Are the butterflies creating the holes? I ...
view the full question and answer

Pecan Trees in Austin, TX prematurely losing their leaves.
September 03, 2010 - Why are the leaves on the pecan trees falling so early this year.
view the full question and answer

Fruit trees for Bellville, TX
January 03, 2010 - Which fruit trees will withstand heat and drought in the Bellville, Texas area?
view the full question and answer

Deadheading seedless desert willows for continued bloom in Phoenix AZ
May 31, 2010 - We planted two seedless desert willow trees this spring. Both have bloomed nicely but we now have many stems with the spent flowers still on the tree. Your database for this plant says to "Remove spe...
view the full question and answer

protecting native trees during drought
June 07, 2011 - We are very concerned about our mature live oaks and cedar elms because they are so stressed due to the drought. We have lost several of our mountain juniper and I really don't want to lose our more...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.