strange limp leaves - what to do???

jaansu(6)September 30, 2010

I have two 25 yr old maples out front that were planted by the developer. They are not much fun: spherical shape, almost no fall color but what do you expect from Toll Bros. Probably the cheapest trees they could find. Someone called them swamp maples and I don't have any other ID on them. One tree has a problem in that before fall arrives, its leaves go limp and many drop off green. This has been happening for several years but with the heat/drought this year it happened by August. The other tree is perfectly fine. Same thing happened last year when we had tons of rain so I doubt it is water related.

My young children love the trees so I won't replace them but can someone tell me if there is something I can do for the wilting maple? Will it get worse?

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It's impossible to say without seeing some pictures but what you describe sounds very typical of how Norway Maple performs in warmer climates.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 9:24AM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Early leaf drop is a sign of stress. Sounds like you figured that out though.

Hmmm. Join a picture hosting site like and put up some pics. We can at least identify your tree. I thought it was Red Maple that is sometimes known as Swamp Maple. A good thing for me since mine is planted in a low spot.

Natural Red Maples are quite variable with fall color. The 'new' grafted clones are clones of superb coloring examples. Mine is just starting to show some color this year and it was rubbed up fairly badly by deer last year for comparison.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 5:52PM
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I have the photos and a photobucket account, but how do you get the photos into here? There don't seem to be any instuctions?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 6:15PM
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It should give you instructions on sharing the photos such as give you a string of code to copy and paste into emails. Locate that and copy and paste it into a message here.
If you're looking for a site that makes it easier to share and gives good instructions, upload them to (not .com) You won't have to register again or at all.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 9:44AM
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Thanks gardeninggrandma, I hope this works.

picture of sick maple

picture of nearby healthy maple

The healthy tree has lots of seeds as well. I note some other trees in the neighbor resemble my sick tree but not all.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 1:20PM
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If it helps, these maples produce almost no color in the fall. Their environment is almost exactly the same although the poorer tree is near the driveway and another maple. I use nothing on my lawn and plantings except corn gluten and leaf compost. The areas around the trees are mulched out 5' and I use only a push mower so no soil compaction.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2010 at 7:48AM
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There are other trees in my neighborhood that seem to have the same problem, but not all. Is this just perhaps a characteristic of the species?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 11:40AM
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An arborist immediately faulted girdling roots and being buried too deep. I've dug carefully around the base and removed the girdling roots I can reach but I still see no root flare. Maybe it is very deep? I'm hitting wood that I'm not sure are large girdling roots or perhaps other roots from the tree. The tree would have been planted 20 yr ago.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 10:13AM
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