Warning…this song will get in your head.

It’s raining leaves! Hallelujah! It’s raining leaves! (Think – “It’s raining men” – this is a ridiculous music video)

Live oaks leaves

Live oaks are called live oaks because they rarely fully shed their leaves – they are semi-deciduous. Several times per year there is a large leaf drop. Annually the first drop occurs in early spring – in Texas that means around March. The leaves drop to make room for the new leaves. 

Different live oaks may drop leaves at different times. Some will look worse than others. Each tree is different and has different characteristics (age, nutrition, water, etc). These differing characteristics will determine the time the leaves will drop and how the tree will look in the process. 

Shortly after the first leaf drop of the year, we get the catkins.

Catkins

What is a catkin? It is those little tassel things that throw off tons of pollen, paints your car yellow, makes you sneeze, then drops and clogs your gutters. Catkins are part of the reproductive process for live oak trees (they are the male flowers). Wind spreads the pollen from these catkins to the female flowers (on the same tree and others). They self-pollinate and pollinate other trees.

Will these things hurt your yard?

When there are only a few leaves/catkins on a lawn they can easily be mulched with a standard mowing service. This is good for the lawn and adds organic matter to the turf. But, if there are too many leaves, it becomes difficult for them to break down. At this point you should consider gathering the leaves and disposing of them. 

Credit where credit is due: I got the catkin picture here.