What is Oak Wilt in Central Texas?
OAK WILT CAN BE DETRIMENTAL TO YOUR LIVE OAKS, YOUR PROPERTY AND THE TEXAS LANDSCAPE
Foliar symptoms, patterns of tree mortality, and the presence of fungal mats (mycelium – the vegetative part of a fungus or fugus-like bacterial colony, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hypae or long, branching filamentous structures) can be used as indicators of oak wilt. However, laboratory isolation of the fungus is recommended to confirm the diagnosis. An ISA Certifed Arborist should be consulted when in doubt.
Most live oaks defoliate and die in 1-6 months following initial appearance of symptoms. Some live oaks take longer to die, and a few untreated trees may survive many years in various stages of decline. Occasionally, a few live oaks in an oak wilt center may escape infection and remain unaffected by the disease.
LIVE OAK TREES ARE A SIGNATURE PART OF OUR BEAUTIFUL AND NATURAL TEXAS LANDSCAPE
The Live Oak tree is a large, stately tree, commonly up to 50 feet tall with a short, stout trunk of 4 feet or more in diameter, dividing into several large, twisting limbs that form a low, dense crown that can spread more than 100 feet, the limbs often touching the ground in open-grown settings. It occurs on well-drained soils in the southern coastal plain, from Virginia through the Atlantic and Gulf states and into Texas, west to the Balcones Escarpment and south to Hidalgo county. Widely planted as a landscape tree in Texas.
Live oaks were once prized for their naturally curved limbs and trunk, used by shipbuilders in the 18th Century to fashion the ribs and planking of tall sailing ships, such as "Old Ironsides." Refitting that ship in the 1980s included specialty pieces cut from live oaks in Texas that had been killed by the oak wilt fungus.
Texas live oak (Quercus fusiformis) occurs north and west of the Balcones Escarpment in Central Texas and tends to be smaller and multi-trunked. Mexican blue oak (Q. oblongifolia) is a rare evergreen oak that occurs in West Texas.