Do North Texas Live Oak Trees Lose Their Leaves?

Date November 09, 2022


Author TreeNewal Staff

Native to Texas, live oak trees are beautiful and stately with dense, wide-spreading canopies that earn them the title of one of the best trees in DFW. Texas live oaks are unique in that they’re among the only North Texas trees to drop their leaves in spring instead of winter. Since we’re accustomed to shedding leaves and fall coloration as a hallmark of autumn, this phenomenon can be concerning for homeowners, as they may think their tree is dying. This blog post will explore why North Texas live oaks lose their leaves. We’ll also discuss whether it’s part of their natural leaf cycle and when you should be concerned about your tree’s health.

Do Live Oaks Lose Their Leaves?

Live oaks are also called evergreen oaks because their leaves typically remain green during winter. However, they are not true evergreens. They shed their old leaves to make way for new growth, but the key difference is when they do it. Trees that keep green leaves through the winter and shed them in the spring are known as “tardily deciduos” trees.

When Do Live Oaks Lose Their Leaves?

While many trees shed foliage in autumn to prepare for winter dormancy, Texas live oaks can lose their leaves throughout the year, with major leaf drop happening in spring. This unique phenomenon occurs in March through early May, when the temperatures begin warming up. Spring is a time for trees, including Texas live oaks, to develop new leaf buds. But before they can grow, old leaves have to go. As the old leaves die, they’ll turn brown and drop.

When You Should Worry About Your Tree’s Health

During this natural process, North Texas live oak trees can look sickly, with leaves appearing brown or yellow with black or brown-colored spots. This discoloration and process can happen relatively quickly, causing responsible homeowners to think their live oak tree is dying. And for a good reason! These symptoms mimic many North Texas tree diseases and pests. So how do you know if your live oak is experiencing regular leaf drop or something is wrong?

How Can I Tell if My Texas Live Oak is Experiencing Normal Leaf Drop?

Look closely at the dying leaves to see if new buds are forming. The buds may be very small but should become more prominently visible as older leaves begin to die. You should see tiny leaves emerging from those buds when the old leaf drops. If buds are present, your Texas live oak tree is most likely experiencing its normal yearly leaf cycle.

Regular leaves may even have veins that turn brown while the spaces between them remain green. This can be confused with oak wilt, a prevalent disease threatening North Texas tree health. While oak wilt fungus may infect your live oak tree during the winter and early spring, symptoms are most often observed in summer.

How to Tell if My North Texas Live Oak Tree is Sick?

If your live oak tree’s leaves are dropping and you don’t see any new buds, check if the branches are brittle and snap when you bend them. If they’re brown on the inside instead of greenish-white, the branch is most likely dead. It’s normal for a healthy live oak tree to have a few dead branches, but if more than 10% of its limbs are dead, it could be a sign that something is wrong, and you should immediately contact an ISA Certified Arborist for diagnosis.

As leaves die off naturally to make way for new growth, the appearance of leaf spots may be due to secondary infections caused by fungal pathogens. Your tree may be diseased if the leaf spots or blotches are yellow or have a yellow halo around them.

Learn more about oak wilt by visiting our blog “How to Protect Oak Trees from Oak Wilt“

Why Does One Live Oak Tree Lose Its Leaves, but Another One Looks Okay?

This explanation of why live oaks lose their leaves may not be sufficient for homeowners with multiple trees on their property. If it’s a natural occurrence, why does it affect one tree more or less than another? Regardless of its species, each tree should be considered an individual with unique characteristics. Trees may differ genetically, making one tree lose its leaves faster than another. Other environmental or physical factors also influence when and how quickly a particular tree sheds its leaves.

For more info on live oak tree care, check out our blog: “How to Care for a Live Oak Tree: The Only Guide You Need

Live Oak Tree Care

While live oaks losing their leaves in spring is a natural part of their growth cycle, understanding what’s normal and when you should seek help is critical to proactive tree care. If you’re worried your Texas live oak tree is experiencing abnormal leaf drop due to environmental stressors, tree pests, or diseases, contact a TreeNewal tree doctor to evaluate your tree’s health and condition. After a first-time fee, TreeNewal customers become lifelong clients and enjoy ISA Certified Arborist tree diagnoses any time, free of charge.

TreeNewal is a full-service sustainable tree care company offering residential and commercial tree services in Dallas, Argyle, Denton, Fort Worth, Flower Mound, Southlake, and Westlake. Contact our Dallas tree care specialists at (817) 592-6846 if you need advice or assistance with tree nutrition, tree pruning, insect and disease management, soil conditioning, tree removal, and more!

To learn more about Do North Texas Live Oak Trees Lose Their Leaves?, call our Argyle and Southlake-based teams

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