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Japanese Maple - Question regarding moss on bark and cracked bark

Posted by gordo (My Page) on
Wed, Jun 13, 07 at 18:34


I have some species of Japanese maple. It's absolutely beautiful - mix of dark red.crimson and green leaves during the spring and summer, red seedlings, about 20-25' high. I *believe* it's a Bloodgood (pics in the 'Name that Plant' forum). Anyway, I'm somewhat concerned for its health for two reasons:

1) It has some form of moss/lichen growing all over the lower trunk area. Does anyone know what it is & if it's harmful? Anything I should do to treat it?

2) I noticed two cracks in bark on the lower trunk running in-line with the trunk. I'd assume it was from a wind storm and torqued the tree too much. Are these cracks something I should do something about (treat them? should I cable the tree above to strengthen it?).

Hopefully you can see both issues in the pictures below. If not, I can post a close up.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Japanese Maple - Question regarding moss on bark and cracked

I wouldn't worry about the lichen, this is natural and shouldn't harm the tree.

I cant really say what should be done about the cracks without getting a real good look. It is difficult to tell whether or not it is a surface crack or a deep one. If they are surface cracks, you should probably just leave them be...keeping an eye out for further damage. If they are deep, some type of cabling or bolting might be a good idea. Or you could just thin out the upper branches to lighten the load.

RE: Japanese Maple - Question regarding moss on bark and cracked

You don't say where you live..It looks to me like a winter bark cracking if you are from a colder area or the spring freeze..but that is a bit unusual for an older tree ..I have had younger hard maples and fruit trees do usually heals over time ..but it could be vermin or something else I would have your local extension service or a licenced arbourist look at it ..without on the spot inspection we might do more harm than good with arm chair diagnosis..I think it could be serious and my instinct it is a bark defoliating thing that could be a symptom of something much more dangerous..I personally don't agree with Matt on this or your statement of storm damage ..i have seen this before and it looks like a bark related thing to me NOT storm stress...but as i said your best bet is to get a pro analysis.David

RE: Japanese Maple - Question regarding moss on bark and cracked

Thanks for the responses. I'm in SE Michigan, Zone 6, which is typically < 32* F and snow from December - February. The only reason I thought it might have been storm stress is that the main trunk is 'V' at the base from the ground up... and the 1/2 that has the two cracks faces directly into the westwards direction -- directly against the direction we get our storms from. The other 1/2 of the V, the other trunk, runs directly east (with the wind), and has no signs of stress. Could just be coincidence... but I agree, I'm going to be bring a pro into confirm. This tree is just too nice and large to not make sure.


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