I have cork oak seedling where the older leaves (last year's growth) start looking like this:

enter image description here

Though wind resistant, it falls off if slightly touched. Go figure.

But I don't think the plant is in poor condition. The roots are healthy. New buds are popping up and they seem vibrant and vigorous.

Is this condition a normal condition of older oak tree leaves or is it some sort of fungal disease?

Or is it due to over watering issues? I suspected this and I considerably dialed back on the watering and am making sure to check if the soil is quite dry before saturating. Maybe that's why the new leaves are doing okay but the old ones are damaged?


Oaks begin as acorns which are a large store of nutrient to get the seedling going. At the end of the first year the chemistry needs to transfer from nutrition from the acorn which rapidly depletes to feeding from roots. In the transfer it can happen that the seedling will steal nutrients from older parts of the plant to send out the new leaves. The leaf shown is quite typical of this stealing. However if the roots are good then the shift to root feeding must be under way. The only real way to rule out fungus is to examine under magnification, but even then what you might be seeing is just an old leaf no longer part of the tree starting to decompose.

The leaf falling off when lightly touched is a good sign. It shows that the abscission layer formed naturally to allow the leaf to detach normally. If the abscission layer did not complete natural formation that would be a sign of a severe problem.

I'd say you were good to go.

  • Ahh that makes sense. I've read your answers on multiple posts. You're a walking encyclopedia.
    – Christian
    Feb 24 at 21:16
  • Quick question, how did you acquire this wealth of knowledge? Formal study / books or years of experience?
    – Christian
    Feb 24 at 21:18
  • experience = f(years,miles,books,mistakes,beatings,curiosity,reason,...) Feb 25 at 6:09

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