shishigashira japanese maple

goatlipsJuly 13, 2014

I have a well established shishigashira Japanese maple that up until a week ago was the picture of health. I noticed the leaves were curled and crunchy yet it does have new growth. If I run my hand backwards on the branch (toward the trunk) the leaves fall off very easily. I checked with a moisture meter and that was fine. I read previous entries on the forum with regard to this tree and it was suggested that it might be sun damage yet it has seen hotter days in this location in previous years. If it is some type of disease or infestation, what should I be looking to find?? How can I tell if it is on it's way out of if it can be salvaged?? HELP!!

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Need photos, please. Impossible to tell what's happening just based on descriptions :-))

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 5:55PM
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Hope this picture helps you.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:28PM
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No photo showing. Try again :-)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 2:19PM
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Got the photos - thanks, that certainly helps!

First, I see nothing in the photos that causes me concern except the rather ungainly base/graft union/root flare. But if this is a well established tree - as it appears to be - whatever problems this might have created should have presented themselves long before now.

Curled and crinkly with new growth is exactly how the foliage should look. 'Crunchy' would not be a term I'd be happy with nor the notion that leaves were falling off with just a passing glance of the hand. I see no evidence of sun damage - besides, this tree is extremely sun tolerant.

In short, I see no obvious signs insect or disease problems. Whatever is amiss with it (and it doesn't look like much from the photos) is most likely to be cultural - water management, soil issues or potential lingering damage from an excessively cold winter. I would be concerned about leaving the top of the rootball exposed for much longer and I personally would not rely on moisture meters. You are much more able to determine and fine tune the need for watering than a soil probe so trust your instincts! If you have been hot and dry, water the tree slowly and deeply after reapplying mulch or whatever around the base.

Keep us posted how it goes.

Edit: Sorry - should have included link to goatlip's photo file so others can offer their input as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Shishigashira photos

This post was edited by gardengal48 on Thu, Jul 17, 14 at 18:09

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 5:52PM
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Thank you so much for your for your quick response and the helpful information. I am curious about your comment on the base\graft union/ root flare. Please explain what it should be like ideally. The root ball was covered after the photo was taken. The reason it was exposed is I was instructed by the person from whom I purchased my tree to look for girdling. We did have a fair amount of rain this spring so perhaps that could be contributing to any changes I have observed. I would appreciate any suggestions you have with regard to caring for my tree. Thanks again!!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:56PM
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Ideally, there should be just a gradual flare from the trunk to the top of the root system. Not a big, sort of lumpy swelling :-)) That could just be the effect of the graft union (all named JM's are grafted) on such a short trunked tree. My preference is for the graft union not to be at all noticeable but that is not always the case. The root flare should always be at the soil surface or just slightly above, never buried below.

Girdling can be an issue and it often takes time for that to develop to the point where it becomes serious. I'd much prefer to see the roots in person rather than relying just on a photo, so I'll defer to your best judgment as to whether you found any concern with this. It doesn't look bad to me, best as I can tell.

Other than that, the only care this little tree requires is infrequent slow, deep watering during hot, dry periods.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 2:26PM
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Thanks for the information. I will watch the tree vigilantly and let you know if there are any significant changes. Thanks again!!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 3:20PM
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