Japanese Maple Bark Peeling

Phil3(9)May 24, 2014

Just noticed one branch on our Japanese Maple (planted 12-1/2 years ago), had all dead leaves. Upon inspection, I find that bark on that branch (and others) is peeling and coming off. See photo. Some other branches, including quite significant ones, are suffering from peeling.

The peeling appears only on the top of the branches from what I can tell, and are only on the west side of the tree (again, from what I can see).

What might be happening? How to remedy? Is the damage too much for branches to survive, and important question, as some afflicted branches are the mainstay of the tree.

Thanks.

Phil

This post was edited by Phil3 on Sat, May 24, 14 at 20:29

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

peeling bark means underlying wood is dead. Need to figure out why.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 10:24PM
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gardengal48

Need to see a good photo of the entire tree. As noted, peeling bark is a symptom, not the problem itself

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:31PM
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Phil3(9)

How can a branch with underlying dead wood still have healthy leaves on it? The only branch that is presenting dead leaves after the peeling is the one shown. And yet a multitude of other branches with peeling bark are full of healthy leaves. ???

Unfortunately, I have no idea how to figure out why underlying wood is dead.

Thanks.

Phil

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:35PM
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Phil3(9)

A photo of the entire tree as requested. - Phil

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:39PM
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Phil3(9)

Another pic of the entire tree. Our gardener has been pruning it up periodically on the grass side to allow the grass to grow. Before any pruning, the grass was dying due to lack of sun from the shade provided by the tree. I like the looks of the tree when it is weeping, but no chance for the grass. Perhaps the two together are just incompatible? The tree does not seem to be gaining any more height that I can see.

- Phil

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:45PM
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gardengal48

OK, now I'm confused. In your original post you said: "one branch on our Japanese Maple (planted 12-1/2 years ago), had all dead leaves. Upon inspection, I find that bark on that branch (and others) is peeling and coming off. See photo. Some other branches, including quite significant ones, are suffering from peeling."

Branches with peeling bark and no leaves are very likely dead and should be removed. Other branches with peeling bark and leaves that are sparse or struggling are showing the early stages of the same problem. Dead wood can be present in an irregular pattern depending on problem so foliage can still be present although not thriving. Lots of issues can affect Japanese maples - bacterial blights and soil fungal pathogens are only a couple and can contribute to dead wood/peeling bark, as can sunscald, extreme drought issues and winter dieback.

It is difficult to make any sort of accurate diagnosis just based on the photos (some problems are a lot more obvious than others) so I'd suggest taking samples of both the dead branches and the struggling branches to your local extension office. They will have access to a plant pathologist that can determine what's wrong and what can be done to correct.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 5:24PM
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Phil3(9)

I don't see the source of any confusion...but too clarify...

A single modestly sized branch has bark peeling. All branches downstream of it appear dead, and either have no leaves or shriveled dry leaves. There is one branch, immediately downstream of the afflicted branch, that still has healthy leaves on it.

I'd prefer not to remove a "struggling" branch, since all the leaves are fine, and the branches are large and would constitute the removal of a sizable portion of the tree. I can remove the one branch with dead leaves, as it certainly appears dead, but cutting it off upstream of the split bark, means removal of a side branch that is still healthy.

All other branches on the tree that have peeling bark, have no sign of dying leaves.

There are other branches on the tree, which do not have any peeling bark.

Other observations and notes.

The bark is not being chewed off. The bark is developing splits which then open up, and the bark curls away.

In January or thereabout, it became extraordinarily cold here, down to perhaps 25, though the weather report said in places it reached 22.

We had an early spring and the tree popped with leaves pretty early, and then it got cold again, but not freezing.

The peeling is only on the west side and only afflicts branches near the top of the tree.

Nothing else has changed with the tree.

Sorry, I don't know what the local extension office is.

Phil

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 5:57PM
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