Distressed maple tree #643985 - Ask Extension


Distressed maple tree #643985

Asked May 31, 2020, 8:14 PM EDT

I have a very mature maple tree that seems to be very distressed. It has not produced many leaves and many branches are bare with a lot of undeveloped leaf buds. It has produces “spinners” but dropped small twigs with both leaf and spinners attached. Any information you can share would be helpful.

Oakland County Michigan

Expert Response

Maple trees this year are going through a number of stressful issues. First the cold spring delayed normal leaf out, then a hard freeze the first week of May damaged tender leaves, buds and some flowers on most plants, including maple. Right now as the trees are attempting to leaf out maple leaves are showing black streaks on leaves due to anthracnose, a common fungal disease that starts early spring and is visible now. Also right now squirrels are rebuilding their nests and break off twigs and leaves for that purpose, dropping many to the ground. Maple petiole borer insects have started to cause leaves to  drop to the ground with very short stems, called petioles.
Your tree looks like it is trying to sprout a fresh set of leaves, even though  many of the flower buds and ‘spinners’  ( scientific name is samara) show some damage too.
Most maples recover from all this as long as they can get enough water during the growing season.
If this tree had some health issues in previous years,  this year’s issues may be impacting it more than usual. If you don’t see more leaves sprouting out over the next two weeks I would recommend you have a certified arborist out to examine the tree, diagnose all the issues, and give you a care plan.          
You can find certified arborists, professionals trained and certified in pests, diseases and health care of trees, by zip code here- www.treesaregood.org

Laura Sheffer Replied June 01, 2020, 10:38 AM EDT

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