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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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Thursday - August 08, 2013

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Watering, Trees
Title: Dry browning leaves on Monterrey Oak from San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a Monterey Oak that was planted four years ago and was doing great until the last two weeks. It has turned brown and the ends of the branches are very dry and brittle. The root flare was covered with several inches of soil. I uncovered it but the bark on the roots by the trunk is not there. Is there any chance this tree will come back? I put some root stimulater on it and have been giving it extra water. I have always watered it every couple weeks or more. Mary

ANSWER:

We are not sure we understand your statement about the root flare being covered with several inches of soil and there being no bark on the roots. Quercus polymorpha (Mexican white oak) (also known as Monterrey Oak) is shown on this USDA Plant Profile Map as native only to Val Verde County in the Big Bend area of Texas, some distance from Bexar County. The tree grows much more widely in Mexico, but is being commercially distributed in the United States. We recommend that dirt not be piled up against the trunk of a tree but roots would ordinarily be covered in dirt, by definition. If the dirt was piled up close to the trunk proper that could certainly cause problems, like fungus and rot, but it would not have waited until 2 weeks ago to do so.

A sudden change such as you describe would be more likely to be the product of an environmental problem or the onset of disease. Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on a similar problem on the same tree. Follow any other links in that answer for more information. We do feel that an oak is too valuable a tree to guess about, and suggest you contact a licensed arborist or the Extension Education Office for Bexar County for more information.

 

From the Image Gallery


Mexican white oak
Quercus polymorpha

Mexican white oak
Quercus polymorpha

Mexican white oak
Quercus polymorpha

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