Help! - sick maple tree

kbolster(z5 NY)June 25, 2006


I have a maple tree in our backyard that is looking very sickly. It is starting to lose it's leaves and the leaves look brown and crisp around the edges. I have no idea what the problem might be or if I can do something to fix it. There are two things that I think might be a contributing factor:

1) tent catepillars - we had a fair amount this year and that tree seemed to have the most. However, if that wasn't the problem, wouldn't they have just eaten all the leaves? Would it affect the tree now that most of the catepillars are molting into months?

2) when the land was cleared the bulldozer did some damage to the bark at the base of the tree. The land was cleared two years ago so I'm not sure if that is an issue or not.

I have very little gardening experience and don't know anything about trees. I'd REALLY like to save this tree if possible bc it gives us great shade in the summer.

Here's a link to pics of the tree and it's leaves:

Thanks in advance for any information/advice anyone can provide!


Here is a link that might be useful: Pics of the maple tree & it's leaves

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myersphcf(z6a IL)

this would only be a guess pure and simple but my 'guess' is #1 that gash is pretty severe and maybe something got into the tree or the bark had unattached all the way around the teee or enough to actually cause it to start dying...if so there is little you can do is a big gash and it has not seemed to be healing after two years .....I had one split from the cold about that big but has gradually regrown over it from what was left on either side til now it's almost covered again ...yours looks like its just hanging there...#2 some chemical damage either from drifting spray( if you live mear a farmer using roundup it could happen or the roots getting into a septic with some weird chemicalds in it ...that would be best case senerio since it may survive...if it doesnt stress out to much with heat or cold this next year ...As i said just a guess someone may have a better idea does look chemical to me ...but that is one h-ll of a gash!!! David

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 10:36PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

That's not a gash. That's lost bark at least half way (possibly more) around the trunk.

And all that missing bark means the tree may not make it.

The early "fall" color is a signal of water stress, as in not enough.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 1:32AM
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kbolster(z5 NY)

Thanks for the input. It's not near a septic, but we do have farm fields across the street. If it is the bark damage... is there anything at all we can do to help it out? Would contacting a nursery or an arborist help?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 9:41AM
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I also have a terribly stressed and sick maple. All of my other trees (and maples) are thriving but this one maple has leaves turning brown and falling to the ground. We have had a cold spring with tremendous rains and winds combined with an extremely hot early summer and more rain. What could be going on? I'm really worried about it... especially as it is a large, well-established tree. Everyone on the forum keeps talking about not enough water but we have had SO much water in the last few months.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 10:32AM
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myersphcf(z6a IL)

I would definitly have a pro look at it ...if it's a bark problem I doubt anything can be done to help it... but as i said i am NO expert...... as i said it could be spray drift ...roundup will do damage to just about any plant including maples can even "jump" from field to field... It may be a combo of both ...bark weakening and spray damaging...As I said just a guess... I don't think it is lack of water the other trees look fine and a tree that big would have gigantic roots that could withstand all but severe drought and I mean NO water for a year!!!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 1:23PM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

Aside from the bark problem, much of the Northeast and perhaps other parts of the country have experienced ideal conditions - cool and wet - for anthracnose infection. Maples, especially red leaved varieties, show a high level of infection in many parts of Maine. Symptoms begin as brown spotting of leaves followed by a crisped appearance and premature leaf fall. This is rarely fatal unless repeated in successive years. Infection plus bark damage, however, may be too much. Check with county extension service or a good local nursery/tree service for an accurate diagnosis.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 6:21AM
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bhrost(zone 5 NY)

I take it that when the land was cleared 2 years ago there were other trees around this one that came out? Just the change in exposure of the tree probably had a negative effect that would require an adjustment period.

Push back the edge of that dead bark and see if you can find any callus forming - this will look like a fairly smooth swollen line of new tissue. It's presence is a good sign that the tree is starting to repair the wound. It should eventually form at the margins of the dead areas - and proves that there is living tissue on the other side of the trunk.

Your soil may still be somewhat compacted from the bulldozer work. It wouldn't hurt to aerate the soil under the area of the maples crown.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 4:38PM
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I have two maple in my front yard and an oak. Both maples r loosing their leaves but the oak is fine. trees are 20 years old.hope it is temp and i dont loose them. good luck with yours.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 4:45PM
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