Category Archives: Trees

What’s the Name of That Tree?

A common question of the fall season is, “What is the name of that tree with the rose-pink pods around town?” The tree, like many plants, goes by different names across the country but the most common are Chinese Flame or Bougainvillea Golden Rain (Koelreuteria bipinnata). Many people mistakenly refer to it as Golden Rain (Koelreuteria paniculata). I prefer the name Chinese Flame for the former to avoid adding to the confusion! The two species are quite similar, both producing clusters of yellow blooms followed by papery seed… Read More →

Live Oaks Dropping Leaves

We have received quite a few questions this spring about live oaks dropping their leaves. Sometimes the leaf drop is so severe that a tree appears almost leafless. While live oaks are sometimes considered an evergreen plant they do naturally shed their leaves in the spring in preparation for the onset of new growth. So leaf drop in the spring is usually due to natural causes and is not generally a cause for concern. Trees often vary in the amount or degree of defoliation they exhibit. Some live… Read More →

2015 Landscape & Irrigation Symposium

Join Texas A&M AgriLife Extension as we present the 2015 Landscape & Irrigation Symposium at Constellation Field in Sugar Land on Friday, November 13th. The program is designed to provide the green industry with the latest information on water management. Register         7:00 – 8:15 a.m.                Vendor Setup and Registration 8:15 – 9:30 a.m.                Why Invest in Conservation Practices and Technologies  John O’Donnell 9:30 – 9:45 a.m.            … Read More →

Beneficial Insects: Green Lacewings

The green lacewing (Chrysoperla sp.) is a common beneficial insect found in the landscape. They are a generalist predator best known for feeding on aphids, but will also control mites and other soft-bodied insects such as caterpillars, leafhoppers, mealybugs and whiteflies. The adult green lacewing has a long slender green body and golden eyes. It has prominent wings with lace-like veins. An adult will be approximately 0.75” in length. They are typically night flying insects.  Females can lay up to 200 tiny, oblong eggs on silken stalks attached… Read More →

Crown Gall

We received an email last week from our friend Gaye Hammond a Master Rosarian with the Houston Rose Society regarding a sighting of crown gall on roses. Besides roses, crown gall affects many woody ornamental plants, fruit trees and brambles. Crown gall is caused by a soil-borne bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Once in the soil, the crown gall bacterium can survive for several years in decomposing galls from infected plants. The bacterium gets into the plant through wounds that occur during planting, grafting, pruning or by chewing insects feeding… Read More →

Sycamore Lace Bug

While visiting the Genoa Friendship Garden in Harris County Precinct 2, I came across a sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) that was dropping its leaves. Upon closer inspection, there were groups of sycamore lace bugs (Corythucha ciliata) on the underside of the foliage. The sycamore lace bug is a native North American insect that feeds on sycamore trees. It feeds on the underside of the leaves initially causing a white to silvery stippling that can lead to chlorotic or bronzed foliage followed by premature leaf drop. A single occurrence should… Read More →

Barklice: Not as bad as you think

Walking through the neighborhood this weekend I noticed several trees with patches of webbing on their trunks. Barklice are back and doing what they do best; feeding on fungi, algae, dead bark and other organic materials. Description Barklice are not true lice and are harmless to humans and pets. They are small, soft-bodied insects with two-pairs of well-developed wings in the adult stage, but the adults of some species can have reduced wings or none at all.  Eggs are laid singly or in clusters and undergo simple metamorphosis… Read More →

Oak Leaf Blister

We are getting many calls and emails about oak leaves that are malformed and brown. The cause is Oak Leaf Blister (Taphrina caerulescens). This fungus attacks the leaves as they are emerging in early spring causing them to grow in a malformed way, with bulges, depressions, cupping and twisting. The affected areas turn from a light green to brown color. Leaves with severe infections will drop from the tree. Oak leaf blister affects many species of oaks including water oak, willow oak and live oak. The fungus attacks… Read More →

Do Crapemyrtles Really Need Pruning?

It is that time of the year when landscape crews are “pruning” crapemyrtles. I use the term “pruning” loosely since the practice is called “Crape Murder”. The yearly topping / butchering of crapemyrtle trees by landscape professionals has led to homeowners perpetuating the practice since they see it occurring in January and February throughout the county. The Crapemyrtle: Crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) are plentiful in Harris and surrounding counties growing and flowering throughout the summer. They naturally grow as upright, vase shaped trees with multiple trunks. Crapemyrtles provide landscape… Read More →

Crape Myrtle Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew attacks many different species of plants including crape myrtle, phlox, roses, rock rose, honeysuckle, snapdragons and zinnias to name a few. It causes a white powdery covering to form on leaves and stems and can cause severe distortion of new growth and stunting of plants when conditions are favorable for its development. Powdery mildew is most prevalent in mild weather conditions, and high humidity. Crowding of plants minimizes air movement and can increase problems with this disease. The best management strategy is to avoid it with… Read More →