There have been a lot of different information floating around about oak wilt, how it is transmitted and how to care for it once it is in your neighborhood. Oak wilt can be transmitted in two ways, the most common through interconnecting root systems and the other by way of fungal mats on Red Oaks only. You will not find fungal mats on live oaks therefore oak wilt is not transmitted above ground from live oak to live oak but rather through root systems that connect to one another. As an arborist who actively works in the field this is a common question that I get from homeowners.
Here are some additional common questions and answers about oak wilt:
1. Is it safe to burn wood from oak wilt? Answer: It is safe to burn live oaks that are infected with oak wilt as they do not develop fungal mats. Red Oaks should be covered completely in plastic for 6+ months before using.
2. My neighbor has oak wilt, what should I be doing? You should be keeping a watchful eye from all properties that border yours. Oak wilt can travel 75 to 100 feet a year and it would be a good idea to trench if your neighbors next to you have contracted oak wilt and depending on how close the oak wilt is , you may want to inject a fungicide like Alamo.
3. Should I paint tree wounds after performing tree trimming even if we are not in oak wilt season? The answer is yes, just to be on the safe side. Opinions from some of the best experts in the field vary on this but my opinion is to air on the side of caution.
4. I had my trees trimmed several months ago, should I paint the wounds now? No, at this point it does not matter. The tree has produced a protective barrier over the wound and whatever was going to happen has happened. It is a very small percentage of oaks that contract oak wilt above ground, so try not to beat yourself up too much over this.
5. What does oak wilt look like? It varies throughout different types of oaks but there should be a pattern of mortality and not just a stand alone dead tree and we also look for veinal necrosis in the leaves. (Pictured Below)
6. What types of trees should I plant? There are oak trees that are oak wilt resistant like monterey oaks, post oaks, burr oaks and chinquapin oaks that all do very well here in the Austin area. We have so many live oaks in Austin that it is always a good idea to change it up a bit with these oak wilt resistant trees as well.