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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

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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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!

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Friday - September 20, 2013

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests
Title: Berry-looking parasites on live oak leaves
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dripping Springs TX Live oaks. What are these berry looking parasites on my tree's leaves. As many as 4 1/4 in berries per leaf. I have 3 acres with dozens of liveoaks all having them on the leaves

ANSWER:

They are galls caused by the trees reaction to insects laying their eggs in the leaves. The tree's tissues expand and grow around the developing egg and the resulting larvae that feeds on the plant tissue before emerging as an adult.  The galls may not be aesthetically attractive but they are not especially deleterious to the trees.  There is really no way to "treat" them since the insect is safely ensconced within the gall and won't be reached by any insecticide.  Here are some articles related to galls from Texas A&M Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab and from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.  Here are photos of oak leaf galls caused by Belonocnema tratae and more photos of oak galls from the Central Texas Gardener blog.

 

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