White Oak Bark and Leave Issues

Asked November 4, 2016, 1:44 PM EDT

Hi, about 5 years ago when my first child was born, I bought two white oak trees from a nursery in Georgia and planted them in my yard which is located about 40 miles North of Houston. The trees have grown very well and are now about 17 feet high. But a few weeks ago while I was trimming them I noticed significant issues with the bark--falling off and seeing what looked like damage underneath the bark and then there were several rotten like areas with black powdery material. The leaves also appear to be having issues as they have brown spots and haven't been forming all the way. I did see small ant like bugs going up and down the trunks underneath the bark. Any thoughts? Thanks a lot for any help. I really appreciate it. I'd

Montgomery County Texas

3 Responses

Thanks for the question. First, the black spot on the trunk looks like bacterial wet wood, however, it also can be damage from a wood borer. I cannot see in the photo if there is a hole associated with the problem. If it is bacterial wet wood, there is no need to get too worried. It can occur due to stress that was caused by our unusually wet weather or past droughts. The bark splitting can mainly be caused by radial growth of the tree. I do not see other cause for concern there at this time. The leaves are showing signs of environmental issues. Bacterial leaf spot is the main cause. It is also not a major issue at this point. Our weather pattern has caused a lot of the issues. As the tree regrows in the spring, just watch for the issues with the leaves. If they start to show early symptoms, let me know and I can recommend a pre-treatment for the following year. Thanks in advance and let me know if I can help you further. MP

Hi Michael, thanks so much. I've got a lot of heart invested and was worried especially by the bark falling off. In general, are there any other things I should keep an eye on for white oaks in Texas? Thanks again--I really appreciate it.

Here is a good link of some of the most common problems. http://plantdiseasehandbook.tamu.edu/landscaping/trees/oak/

Most of the leaf issues are environmental and will come and go depending on the year.
Below is information on bacterial wet wood.. or slime flux.
http://extension.psu.edu/pests/plant-diseases/all-fact-sheets/wetwood-or-slime-flux

Other than these issues, wood borers would be the only other issue to look for.. Thanks. MP