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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.

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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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Tuesday - March 26, 2013

From: Mesa, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Planting, Trees
Title: Problem with Live Oaks in Mesa AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have two Evergreen Live Oaks in central Arizona. One is flourishing and getting new spring leaves from top to bottom. Its trunk is rough, has large grooves, and the spots where I've pruned look like they're being absorbed by the tree. My other tree has a very sparse amount of new leaves, most branches are bare at the tips and grey. The trunk is smooth with no grooves and the places that have been pruned look as though I trimmed them yesterday rather than months ago. Is it sick? Or dead?

ANSWER:

There are no Live Oaks native to Maricopa County with that particular common name, "Evergreen Live Oaks." There are, however, 5 evergreen or semi-evergeen oaks native there. As deep in the southwestern desert as Maricopa County is, just about any oak would be evergreen, so we will list those and then do some research to see if we can find out what is going on with your trees.

Quercus emoryi (Emory oak) - semi-evergreen

Quercus gambelii (Gambel oak) - semi-evergreen

Quercus grisea (Gray oak) - evergreen

Quercus hypoleucoides (Silverleaf oak) - evergreen

Quercus turbinella (Sonoran scrub oak) -evergreen

We are going to choose Quercus emoryi (Emory oak) as our example, as all these trees are native to the same area and would probably share the same problems. If one tree is doing well in the environment, getting the same water, etc. about all we can think of that would be causing the problems you are describing is transplant shock. Please read this previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on transplant shock. Although the trees in this previous question had only been in the ground a few days, the answer does tell you how to determine if a tree is dead, what treatment you can give it, and the possibility that you should have the tree looked at by a trained, licensed arborist.

 

From the Image Gallery


Lacey oak
Quercus laceyi

Gambel oak
Quercus gambelii

Gray oak
Quercus grisea

Silverleaf oak
Quercus hypoleucoides

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