Maple Cankers !!??!! Oh No!

cfmuehling(7b DC/MD burbs)December 7, 2006

Hi all!

Does anyone know anyone, arborist, hobbiest, human being, in the Washington, DC/Maryland 'burbs who knows anything about maple tree fungus?

I have these cankers developing on 2 of my red maples (Red Sunset and October Glory) at the root collar. They look like lawn mower damage where water got in and caused the bark to separate in long-ish strips. The wood underneath is clean for awhile, then it develops a knot.

I noticed this has spread to an English Hawthorn about 15' away, and yesterday, a small maple (a beautiful Brandywine) on the opposite side of the yard about an acre away has the same look.

The tops of the trees are healthy -- so far.

I'm wondering if this is what caused a Crimson Sentry not to come back this last spring. I don't know if I'm imagining I remember the bark stripping, or if it actually happened.

Anyway, I talked with a Forestry guy, who tells me it's definately a fungus. He was honest, however, in telling me that was as far as his expertise goes and I should look for someone specializing in maple cankers. I've sent an email and called the person who is supposed to be my extension office, and am awaiting a response.

I'm a little freaked about this, because I have another Brandywine, a Somerset, a Sangu Kaku, Autrolinear, an London Plane tree, and about 30 JM saplings on this side of the yard alone. Since it's jumped speicies in some fashion, I'm worried. I've planted over 59 trees in 4 years, and have 130 JM saplings I can't bear to think about losing!

I'm going to ask on the tree forum, but I thought I'd start here in the Home of Maples :)

Happy holidays and thanks to all!


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cfmuehling(7b DC/MD burbs)

I was just browing Trees and came across this picture. It is EXACTLY what my trees' cankers look like after the back has stripped away...

Here is a link that might be useful: Weird Bark

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 11:03AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

I posted this in the Tree Forum for you.
- - -
The damage in the post you linked to was a mechanical bludgeoning of the trunk. So not a canker because cankers are caused by disease.

If your tree was bashed by a mower, the following events have nothing to do with "water got in and caused the bark to separate in long-ish strips."

Rather it resulted as a normal course of events. The wound is old; the tree is trying to cover the bare spot with new growth.

You added: "I noticed this has spread to an English Hawthorn about 15' away, and yesterday, a small maple on the opposite side of the yard has the same look."

Mower bashes are spread by a person with a mower, not by a disease.

And you added: "Anyway, I talked with a Forestry guy, who tells me it's definately a fungus."

Did he see the damage? Or did he rely on you calling it a canker?

A "multi-species" problem is more likely to be a non-disease as in not a fungus nor a bacteria.

It would help us if you could post pictures.

Here is a link that might be useful: your post in the tree forum

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 6:21PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I second the nomination. That redbud definitely looked like it had died down and then grown back up from below, the "canker" being the stump of the old, original dead top, with the new top slowly enclosing it.

Another thing that cause splits in trunks is frost injury.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 11:23PM
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cfmuehling(7b DC/MD burbs)

They're not mower bashes.
If they were, I wouldn't have wasted time, anxiety and my Forestry friend's gas.
For example, the English Hawthorn which is effected is in a garden bed 15' from any mower action. (No, there are no mulch mounds around the trees, either.)

If I could post pictures, I would.

Nonetheless, the cankers (not mower bashes spread by humans) look just like the picture I referenced.

bboy, I was concerned about frost injury, too. Until I noticed the simliarities and my conversation with Forestry friend.

Thank you for your time.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 7:56PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Okay fine. But mislemonverbena's tree wasn't diseased by any stretch of the imagination.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 10:33PM
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cfmuehling(7b DC/MD burbs)

After much thought, I truly believe you have no intention to come across as condescending and kind of nasty as you did to me. Perception is everything. So, taking your post(s) with that thought...

I never said what mislemonverbena's tree was what my trees had. I said it looked exactly like it. Which, BTW, was part of the confusion.

So, since no one has any thoughts here, either, nor any recommendations for arborists, tree specialists, etc., I'll continue on my end. I have a number for a woman from the Univ. of MD given to me by my local extension office I'm trying to reach. If she can help me, I'll be sure to share it with you here, so you have options other than mowing bashing to insist upon.

I might have only been doing this for 5 years, but I read, listen, and most importantly, pay attention.

I appreciate everyone's time.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2006 at 10:13AM
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In Jean's defense (not that she needs any), in lieu of any photos to substantiate, the damage you describe is generally attributed to mechanical injury rather than a disease.

Maple cankers can and do occur, however they tend less to be located at the root collar than at a point somewhat higher up the trunk (or in branches) and they are rather distinctive in appearance, not resembling the picture of the damaged redbud previously referred to. And they will most often have a softened, spongey center, surrounded by knotted or distorted bark growth.

It is also unusual for canker damage to be widespread in a planting of maples - even in native stands or sugar maple orchards, most report only around 3% of trees being affected. And they tend not to be "contagious" in the normal sense (although the fungal pathogen can be spread by insects and/or mechanical means), so a widespread infection is not likely. Also, most disease pathogens tend to be host specific - while not impossible, it is unusual for a different genus to be affected by the same problems that affect Acers.

Certainly a professional from your extension office should be able to provide more definitive and accurate information that what forum posters could offer sight unseen. However, I would certainly consider the likelihood that the damage you are seeing has been caused by mechanical means - small mammals that rip or chew bark, boring insects, freeze damage, physical injury from cultivation, string trimmers, etc. Even deformation from graft sites.

Please do let us know what you find out.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2006 at 11:04AM
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cfmuehling(7b DC/MD burbs)

gardengal, Perhaps had she asked vs. taking the time to be so .... clever .... I could have elaborated to let you know that a canker has also appeared on the 'Red Sunset' that's about 3' up the trunk at a previous pruning-up place.

Your second paragraph detailed all my concerns, since the "unusual" is happening in my yard. That is my concern, and that of the Forestry man, who did see the trees.

Although mine are not the spongey at all, thank goodness. I now have woodpecker holes in the truck of the 'Red Sunset', although the others haven't been drilled yet. The Forestry guy was very concerned to see the same distortion and bark situation on the English Hawthorne, telling me also that it's very, very unusual for something to travel to another genus.

The "professional from the extension office" couldn't "provide more definitive or accurate information" (and I didn't ask him to) and wasn't interested in coming out, because he, too, was clear that it wasn't his area. As I mentioned, he gave me the number of a woman at the Univ of MD who is evidently a nationally-used resource for this kind of stuff. She's out of town but will be back after the New Year.

On other trees in a different area, I do have a lot of trunk damage from rodants, probably, from last year's winter. They didn't cross the road into the main yard, thank goodness. Just this fall, about 20 of my Japanese Maple saplings have been bitten off by rabbits to just above their grafts. I fenced them, but a day late and $ short. They also got a variegated willow. Ah well. At least they didn't create these frightening things on the large maples.

I mentioned also that the damage isn't mechanical, given the fact the trees are in the middle of gardens.

All I asked was if anyone knew of anyone who might specialize in this type of probable situation, as suggested by another professional. I didn't ask for or even suggest someone try an online diagnosis.

No one needs a defense. But no one needed to assume so incredibly much, which wasn't what was asked in the first place. And no one needs to be condescending.

Again, I appreciate the information gardengal. At least you took the time to provide some information I didn't have.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2006 at 10:10PM
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Did you ever find anything out about your cankers?

My Japanese Maple in the DC suburbs is showing the same thing -- what looks like mechanical damage, in spots, starting close to the ground, but then traveling up the trunk to the branches. Too high for a rabbit, which is what I guessed at first. And now accelerating. Clearly some sort of insect or fungus in my case I think.

Did your trees survive? Did you find a treatment?

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 2:20AM
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cfmuehling(7b DC/MD burbs)

Vanyali, I do actually have a little more information. I've been watching this since I originally posted. My trees live, but their growth is almost nonexistant. This ulceration has spread to a Sangu Kaku, English Hawthorne, and another red maple. Yes, cross-species.

The suggestion I recently received is that it looks (to them) like a fungal problem. The first step is to take a 50/50 solution of water and bleach and soak the areas. I have yet to do this, but it is in my plan. After that, it would be a question of experimenting with fungal sprays, I guess. As slow as trees grow, I have no idea how long this might take before I see progress -- or not.

These cankers appear at each junction of branch and trunk, which is why I don't limb up these trees. Given their lack of growth, it's not an issue. I saw a whole street of maples in Odenton, MD with the same issues.

Once again, for those "experts", this is not mechanical damage.

If I have any other suggestions, I'll post them here. I think of this thread often; at least when I'm out looking at these poor trees! LMK if you come up with anything?


    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 9:40AM
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Hi Christine,
I was wondering if you ever tried the bleach solution or any other attempts on the trees and had any success. I'm getting ready to ('cringe') go prod, poke, and possibly remove some bark from the base of the trunk on my lovely Bloodgood. Don't know if it's fungal or insect, but it's quite possible that the 'entry' for the problem came from mechanical injury. No major scars/damage/obvious injury though; that's not the problem. What's going on here is loose bark with cracks that look like they are from the separation and dried out/dead condition of the bark. Not frost cracks, etc. That's why I'm going to have to remove the bark and look. Sigh. Really don't want to lose this one.
Just have to say - comprehensive reading is really a dying skill, isn't it? ;) You ought to hear my husband rant about the auto repair forums.
Thanks for your time and hope you have had some success for your sake!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 1:29PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Its amazing this post continues to persist without pictures.

Its just my opinion but no one should give diagnosis on a potential disease without pictures. Its like saying my arm really hurts and the doctor says I need to take an x-ray.

But it really hurts and I don't know how to get to our office, can you just tell if I might have a broken arm?

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 8:35PM
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CEFreeman(DC/MD Burbs 7B)

No one asked for a diagnosis. I asked for a referral. I have also had two local tree people see this in person, who have concurred that it is some kind of fungus. Don't be so quick to be an expert and you'll be fine with your broken arm.

Ging, I had what I'd call limited success. 2 years ago I used diluted bleach in a squirt bottle. That year, much of the really sad bark did come off, but it continued to heal itself and a little more quickly. You'd think the drought we've been in would have helped!

This year, although it continues to heal itself, there are still bugs under the bark and woodpecker holes.

I now, which I didn't have in 2006, have a cell phone camera. I'll try to post some to show you the healing and chipping off bark.

It's so sad, because the main tree is gorgeous Red Sunset maple, which keeps trying to survive and grow. The hawthorne to which it spread broke off at the base in a big wind storm. It's putting out so-far healthy sprouts. An Autumn Glory has it moving up the trunk, and across the yard my Sangu Kaku is fighting it. I have a new crape myrtle within 20 feet of it, so we'll see if it spreads to this species, too.

I'd be interested in what you come up with. Just be careful not to use the same tools on other trees without bleaching them (since boiling isn't in the picture!)

(Formerly CFMuehling)

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 1:25AM
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