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

Friday - May 03, 2013

From: Belton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: When is it time to remove diseased oak trees in Belton, TX?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

When to give up on my live oaks. We lost/mostly several live oaks since 2011 and the drought. One, died from the crown, one large mass at a time, and now resembles a 10' totem pole with scraggly growth up the side and top. Another, which was even larger, seemed to be well last year, but simply did not come back this year..except, again, for a few scraggly green branches along the base of the trunk and 2-3 little bundles of green high in the tree tops. I don't see cankers on the trunk. I had some master gardeners visit, and they said it appeared to be a decline, but not live oak decline. Any ideas? It's heartbreaking to lose these big beauties, but if it's time to give up and replant, I'd like to know how to make that decision. My husband thinks if there is any green at all, there's hope, but I'm not so optimistic.

ANSWER:

Decisions are easier when you have good information, so that’s what I’m going to try to provide. The drought has been very hard on our oak trees, and trees that haven’t died are weakened and susceptible to various microbial diseases. The Texas Plant Disease Handbook describes several of these.

A big problem with oak trees in Texas is oakwilt. Check out this link to see if your trees match the symptoms.

Another problem is the fungus Hypoxylon, Biscogniauxia atropunctatum.
These three links have information about this disease.
   Texas Plant Disease  Diagnostic Lab  scroll down to "hypoxylon canker"

   US Forest Service 

   Texas Forest Service 

 The next thing you need to do is have a knowledgeable person examine your trees and determine what the problem is (this is not to demean the master gardeners you have consulted, but think of it as a second opinion). This person could be someone from the Bell County office of Texas Agrilife Extension, someone from the Texas Forest Service , or a Certified Arborist . They should be able to advise what your next step should be.

I like your husband’s optimism, however, a couple of the links under Hypoxylon emphasize that a tree with large, dead limbs is a safety hazard.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Central branches on Texas Ash have died
June 09, 2015 - I have a Texas Ash tree that was planted about 4 years ago. It seemed fine last summer and was well watered. This spring, when it started leafing out, the central branches at the upper part of the tre...
view the full question and answer

Spots on non-native naval orange trees from Stockton CA
October 20, 2012 - I have two mature Navel Orange trees. One tree has developed spotty chlorophyl depleted areas that were not on the oranges when they were smaller. In addition, the oranges on both trees are smaller ,...
view the full question and answer

Leaves browning on non-native willow from in Cumbla PA
July 10, 2011 - We recently planted a willow tree. A lot of the leaves turned yellow and some turned brown, but it is also getting some new buds. my question is, should I take the dead leaves off or leave them there...
view the full question and answer

Reason for tree canopy dieback from Mahopac NY
May 21, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: Not a questions, just sharing, re person in Texas whose Ash Jupiter appeared to be dying "canopy very thin on top". We moved to Putnam Co. NY in 1970. Our house was shaded by...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on fungal attack
October 12, 2005 - I have three plants that have been getting fungus on their soil and I've tried to get rid of it by scraping it off, watering it less and more sunlight. It's two coleus and a begonia. I don't know...
view the full question and answer

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