Question of the Week Number 1: January 30, 2020

“Neil, several of my live oaks have turned gray and are starting to drop leaves way too early. Has the cold injured them? Will they come back?”

Live oaks along a street of a north DFW suburb photographed earlier this week.

Live oaks vary a great deal genetically from one tree to the next. After all, they’re pollinated by wind, so lots of “father trees” may have been involved in producing the acorns that gave rise to the trees over time.

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You’ll see that genetic variation in the leaf sizes and shapes on the trees, and you’ll also see it in their growth forms. You will also see it in the way really cold weather affects them – some will turn gray, then brown and start shedding leaves, while others will hold onto their deep green leaves clear to the end of the winter, the normal time for leaf change-out to occur.

Temperatures across Texas were unusually cold in early winter, and live oaks are reacting accordingly. Yes, they’re going to drop their leaves several weeks early. But they’re going to be just fine. They’re starting to bounce back already.

Life – and live oaks – will all be well.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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