Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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 Trees Questions

Is the palm tree a true tree?
December 18, 2008 - Hello, There has been constant debate here about the Palm Tree. I'm in Las Vegas and I have heard everything from it not being a true tree but a cacti or a giant thistle?! I've tried to research...
view the full question and answer

Plants for 100 gal. pot by pool from Ft. Worth TX
June 23, 2012 - What North Texas evergreen or combination of evergreen plants, bushes or trees could thrive in a huge, 100-gallon clay pot (immovable!) that is situated in full sun year round in an exposed area n...
view the full question and answer

Growth in oak tree in San Antonio
April 05, 2011 - We have a very large gorgeous oak tree in our backyard here in San Antonio, Texas. I noticed a thickness high up in the tree. Thinking it was a nest of some sort, I used binoculars and saw a parasiti...
view the full question and answer

Will corn fall victim to allelopathy from hackberry in Clarkridge AR
March 30, 2013 - Will my corn be inhibited by a nearby hackberry and if so would it help to cut it down? I understand that sometimes the soil is full of the chemicals the tree produces.
view the full question and answer

Looking for a plant to use as a windbreak for a small orchard in Pineville LA.
February 28, 2011 - We are looking for a good plant to use as a wind break for our small fruit orchard.
view the full question and answer

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