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13 Common Maple Tree Problems and Diseases

Charlotte formerly worked as an editor of a garden channel and has extensive knowledge of plant care.

What's wrong with my maple tree?

What's wrong with my maple tree?

Maple Tree DIseases and Issues

When I worked as an editor of a gardening channel, people often asked me how to identify and address common maple tree pests, diseases, and problems. While maple trees can suffer from a number of general problems, verticillium wilt seems to be the most common and dangerous disease plaguing maple tree owners.

The fungi that cause verticillium wilt compromise the tree's vascular system and cause symptoms of wilting and yellowing leaves that are concentrated in one particular area. Failure to control verticillium wilt can kill your tree, so it is important to correctly identify the disease and quickly remedy the problem.

Whether you don't have any idea what anthracnose is or you don't know how to identify lichen, you'll find all the common issues below to help you understand what's plaguing your tree and how to treat the problem.

13 Common Maple Tree Diseases, Problems, and Pests

ProblemSymptomsThreat LevelCauseSeasonTreatment

Maple tree tar spot

Black spots and discoloration on leaves

Low (cosmetic)


Late summer and autumn

Clean up leaf debris around the tree's base


Leaves that curl around a dead-looking brown spot, tan or brown spots near the leaves' veins, cankers, dying young branches, and premature leaf loss

Low (cosmetic)


Late spring to early summer; especially prevalent during wet periods

Keep tree from sitting in moisture; rake leaf debris; prune affected branches

Sooty mold

Powdery black mold covering leaves

Low (cosmetic)

Fungi, or plant and insect secretions


May require treatment of bugs that carry the fungus; can be brushed off


Appearance is all over the place and can be dictated by region, weather, and other factors

Low (but can indicate more severe diseases)

Composite organism made of fungi and algae


Can usually just lift lichens off of the tree; may also prune branches that have it

Verticillium wilt

Wilting or yellowing leaves, often concentrated to one area or side of the tree

Moderate to severe (can kill tree)

Soil-bound fungi

July and August, particularly seen after a dry and hot summer

Plant resistant strains, remove the diseased tree, and/or fumigate the soil

Root rot

Symptoms vary wildly; often looks like mushrooms, can be cankers

Severe (usually lethal)


Wet seasons

Call an arborist immediately. The tree likely needs to be removed and destroyed.


Dieback generally around the crown; external signs appear long after the tree has been infected

Severe (affects tree's innards)


Late spring and early summer

Try to prevent the roots from getting damaged or wounded; some trees recover for no apparent reason

Phyllosticta mimima (maple leaf spot)

Ten to brown spots with a purple or red center

Low (cosmetic)



Remove leaf debris. General tree maintenance. Plant resistant strains.

Powdery mildew

a fine powder-like mildew that covers leaves; white-ish in color

Low (cosmetic)


Summer; thrives in greenhouse-like conditions (humid and hot)

You can brush the mildew off or apply horticultural oils.


Dry, brown leaves

Low (cosmetic)

Weather conditions such as low moisture, high temperatures, and dry wind


Ensure that tree is well watered; apply mulch to help with water retention

Maple mosaic

White to yellow discoloration that's often kaleidoscopic looking

Low (cosmetic)


Summer (thought to be spread by the whitefly, whose population peaks in the summer)

There are no treatments. In fact, some people cultivate for this.

Pear thrips

Winged brown insects that are about the size of a nickel or smaller

Low (usually only damage foliage)


April through May

No known treatments.


Large number of varieties; usually look like black, red, brown, or green abnormalities such as a pimple or a needle

Low (cosmetic)


Seasons vary by type and mite

Some people have claimed to have success with pesticides and miticides, but this remains to be scientifically proven.

Two examples of tar leaf on a maple.

Two examples of tar leaf on a maple.

1. Maple Tree Tar Spot

  • Identification: Black spots that range in size from a pin-prick to the size of a half-dollar (4 cm). Some reports say that the spots can get as big as two inches.
  • Caused By: Fungi that tend to hide in leaf debris. Specific species include Rhytisma acerinum, R. americanum, and R. punctatum.
  • Season: Late summer and autumn.
  • Susceptible Species: Norway, silver, sycamore, and sugar, but almost all types of maple are affected by some form of tar spot or another.
  • Treatment: It's mainly cosmetic. It shouldn't affect your trees in the long term. The fungus tends to hide in decomposing leaves. So the best way to protect against it is by cleaning up any dead leaves.
  • Threat Level: Low (cosmetic)

The maple tree tar spot is fairly easy to identify. It's caused by a fungal pathogen in the genus Rhytisma. While this affects maple trees in general, it especially targets Norway, silver, and sugar varieties. Tar spot will not kill your trees, but it's unsightly and can cause them to drop their leaves before the fall season.

The spots first appear as small yellow spots in June. Then, they progress to the black spots on the leaves you see above. Their size ranges from one-eighth of an inch to an inch or more in diameter on the Norway Maple. The spots can also appear on the seeds (samaras).

The fungus winters over on fallen leaves. If the leaves are not raked up in the fall, the fungal spores will reappear in the spring and spread to nearby trees. Treating the trees is usually not effective because the spores can travel from a neighbor's tree onto yours.

If your tree has these spots, which then causes leaves to curl in mid-July, it may have a different disease called Anthracnose.

Anthracnose on maple leaves.

Anthracnose on maple leaves.

2. Anthracnose

  • Identification: Anthracnose is a bit of a general term describing a wide range of symptoms. In general, though, these can be signs of the disease: leaves that curl around a dead-looking brown spot, tan or brown spots near the leaves' veins, cankers, dying young branches, and premature leaf loss.
  • Caused By: Various fungi such as Aureobasidium apocryptum, Discula campestris, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, and Discula umbrinella.
  • Season: Late spring to early summer; especially prevalent during wet periods
  • Susceptible Species: Young maple shoots of many varieties are especially susceptible to this.
  • Treatment: Keep the tree dry if you can (by moving sprinklers elsewhere, for instance). Prune any affected-looking branches, and then rake them up and dispose of them properly. Rake any fallen leaves as well.
  • Threat Level: Low because it's mostly cosmetic.

Anthracnose is commonly mistaken for tar spot. However, it inflicts much more extensive damage because it affects both the leaves and the branches. You'll find many more spots on the leaves that are typically smaller than the 1/8" tar spots.

This condition typically occurs when trees experience long periods of cold, wet weather. The affected areas may show small, dark spots and irregularly-shaped leaves with dead or brown areas. The leaves usually fall off in the early spring, followed by a second set of leaves which also die off. The branches can also develop cankers, which often strip them of their bark and kill them.

The disease continues when fungal spores over winter in dead leaves and infect trees during a prolonged wet spring. Once a tree is infected, the disease survives the winter in infected branches and then spread when the wind carries its spores to surrounding trees.

Anthracnose can be controlled by removing dead leaves from the base of your trees in the fall. You can also apply fungicide, but you may need a commercial application depending on the size and number of trees that may be affected. You can call your local Cooperative Extension office to see what fungicides are legal in your state.

While sooty mold mainly affects plants and trees that honeydew-secreting insects love, the mold can also effect maples.

While sooty mold mainly affects plants and trees that honeydew-secreting insects love, the mold can also effect maples.

3. Sooty Mold

  • Identification: As the name suggests, sooty mold looks quite a bit like soot. It typically presents as a black, powdery coating that can be brushed off.
  • Caused By: Fungi, or plant- or insect-secretions.
  • Season: N/A
  • Susceptible Species: Trees in close proximity to those that honeydew-secreting bugs love, such as hickory or pecan. Also affects trees that honeydew-secreting plants love.
  • Treatment: Since this is usually caused by insects such as aphids, whiteflies, and mealybugs, controlling them is the larger issue. You can control these populations by various non-chemical means including using neem oil.
  • Threat Level: Low (doesn't do direct damage and is mostly cosmetic)

Sooty mold feeds on the sticky honeydew left by aphids and scale insects, which can sometimes be found on maple trees. You'll know it's this mold if it rubs off easily on your fingers when you touch it.

The good news is that sooty mold won't kill your tree and can be easily treated. Try using a gardening mix that works to protect plants. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully and apply it at the base of the tree to ensure the roots absorb the mixed ingredients. This method should also prevent reinfection for up to one year.

The University of Hawai'i has created an amazing PDF that explains the mold's lifecycle and is complete with many photos of the mold.

Lichens on a maple tree.

Lichens on a maple tree.

4. Lichen

  • Identification: Lichen looks so many different ways. Its appearance is affected by a wide variety of circumstances, including altitude, temperature, photosynthetic component, and which other components make up the lichen (such as the fungus it's growing with).
  • Caused By: Lichen is a composite organism made up of algae and/or cyanobacteria that creates filaments between shoots of fungi. They don't simply appear out of nowhere. Generally speaking, the lichen dries up, a piece breaks off, the wind carries it elsewhere, and then moisture revitalizes the broken-off piece at a later time.
  • Season: N/A
  • Susceptible Species: Slow-growing things, like the Japanese maple, tend to be more susceptible to this (it'll even grow on rocks!).
  • Treatment: You can lift some lichens right off the tree without damaging it. You may want to wait until the tree's dormant period so that you avoid damaging any buds. Alternatively, you can also prune leaves or branches that are covered.
  • Threat Level: Low (mostly cosmetic; doesn't damage tree), but it can be a sign that the tree is experiencing more traumatic issues such as root rot.

Lichen, pronounced "liken," isn't a plant. It's actually a combination of algae and fungus living symbiotically. It comes in vast swaths of colors and formations. There are an estimated 20,000 different varieties. Lichen isn't parasitic, meaning that it doesn't feed off of the thing that it's attached to—unlike mistletoe, for instance, which does feed off the host plant. Lichen gets everything it needs to thrive from the air rather than its host surface.

Lichen can be found on many maple varieties, but it's more commonly seen on mature trees. Fortunately, it's not harmful because it feeds off of the air rather than the trees. It doesn't seem to have any long-lasting effects on the places where it grows. It can make it harder for the tree to get the nutrients that it needs via photosynthesis, depending on how large the lichen is and how much of the tree it covers.

You shouldn't feel a pressing need to eliminate lichen because it's not harmful, but you can use copper fungicides if you don't want to see them on your maples. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully!

5. Verticillium Wilt

  • Identification: The name describes a wide variety of wilts. However, symptoms tend to be localized to the base of the affected vegetation, to several limbs, to one side of the tree, or to the lower and/or outer parts of the plant. Symptoms can include wilting, yellow leaves, defoliation (meaning "leaf loss"), and stunted growth.
  • Caused By: Fungi of the Verticillium genus, V. dahliae, V. albo-atrum, V. longisporum, V. nubilum, V. theobromae, and V. tricorpus. The fungi lives in the soil. It enters the tree via the roots.
  • Season: Symptoms typically develop in July and August, particularly after a dry and hot summer.
  • Susceptible Species: Maples
  • Treatment: The disease spreads by laying dormant in the soil, by being ejected into the air when it falls from a tree, by bugs damaging the plant or tree (and thus giving the disease access to the plant or trees innards), and by root-to-root contact. To treat this disease, you'll need to fumigate the soil, plant resistant strains, or whatever it is that's affected, and in severe cases, remove the tree. The disease may resolve on its own, the tree may need additional care (such as watering or balancing the nutrients in the soil), or it may have to be removed. Removing the tree does not need to be your first option. You should be able to call an arborist to help determine if it is, in fact, verticillium.
  • Threat Level: Moderate to severe; this disease does affect the health of the tree and can kill it.

One of the worst diseases that your tree can get is verticillium wilt. It affects the tree's vascular system, which usually kills the entire plant. The verticillium fungus is a soil-borne disease and can remain dormant in the soil years before it makes an appearance. The fungus enters through the tree's roots.

Two symptoms of verticillium wilt are yellowing leaves and wilting leaves. Sometimes, whole branches or the entire crown can wilt and die in a short period of time. You can also find a green or brownish-green color in the sapwood of affected trees.

Try to get a proper diagnosis to help you make the right decision for your tree. Call your local Cooperative Extension office to see if they can come out and take a core sample to test.

6. Root Rot

  • Identification: There are several different types of root rot, including formes, ganoderma, phytophthora, and laetiporus. The symptoms of each type are pretty distinctive. Formes has shelf-like, mushroom-looking half-disc growths that protrude out of the trunk; this particular type of root rot is especially common in North America. Ganoderma forms similar mushrooms, but they are less wavy in appearance than the formes variety; this species seems to mainly appear in tropical climates. Phytophthora causes cankers that make it look like the tree is bleeding, and it doesn't form any mushroom-looking growths. Laetiporus does form mushrooms too. They are often bright yellow, orange, or some combination thereof. They look like a ruffly colonial-era cravat.
  • Caused By: Most varieties are caused by water molds of the Phytophthora genus. In order to "activate," the molds need a sufficient amount of water. The spores are airborne and can also be carried by flying insects and soil-bound arthropods.
  • Season: Particularly wet seasons.
  • Susceptible Species: Everything is at risk; however, you can find specific types of root rot-resistant trees. For instance, if a particular type of root rot is common to your area, you can see if there's a tree resistant to that particular strain.
  • Treatment: Infected specimens should likely be removed and destroyed immediately. Call your local arborist and consult their expertise both to ensure that the tree is infected and that the tree is properly disposed of.
  • Threat Level: Severe (it's usually lethal, and there aren't treatments).

Phytophthora root rot is caused by a wet spring or leaving your maple tree in poorly drained soil. The main symptoms are yellow, relatively smaller-sized leaves and dark brown or black tree roots.

Unfortunately, trees with root rot usually can't be salvaged and need to be cut down to prevent injuring people or damaging property.

Sapstreak isn't easy to catch because it mainly affects the inside of the tree.

Sapstreak isn't easy to catch because it mainly affects the inside of the tree.

7. Sapstreak

  • Identification: Because the fungus infects the tree from the inside, it can be difficult to notice symptoms right away. Initial symptoms include small leaves. The small leaves can become branch dieback in subsequent years. Branch dieback will most likely appear at the top, or crown, of the tree first. The trunk's wood will look tea-stained.
  • Caused By: A fungus called Ceratocystis virescens
  • Season: Late spring and early summer
  • Susceptible Species: Sugar bushes, especially the sugar maple where logging activities are present
  • Treatment: The main way to treat this is to prevent the tree's roots from getting damaged, as this is how the fungus usually enters the tree. Damage could mean anything from an insect infestation weakening the tree to a car driving over the roots and wounding them. Some trees go into remission and recover without any treatment for unknown reasons. Some trees go into remission and then exhibit symptoms all over again. You may have to remove a tree that's infected.
  • Threat Level: Severe (the fungus damages the tree's innards, and generally containing the disease means removing the tree)

Sapstreak is a ground-living fungus that generally enters the tree's system via an injury near the roots or bottom portion of the tree. The fungus then inches upwards from the root system and infects the trunk of the tree. As time goes on, the fungus eventually affects the outward portions of the tree, such as the branches and leaves.

Sometimes sapstreak means a slow death for the tree, over a period of many years. Other times, a tree can succumb in as little as two or three years. In a report by the USDA tracking sapstreak in sugar maples, they note that "[s]ometimes disease progression . . . is arrested and recovery ensues, even in trees with more than 40 percent crown dieback." So this infection isn't necessarily a death sentence.

8. Phyllosticta Minima (Maple Leaf Spot)

  • Identification: Not to be confused with tar spot, these spots appear on a maple's leaves, are tan to brown in the center, and are violently red to purple around the edges. The spots can also be small black pinpricks like a banana or mango that's going bad.
  • Caused By: The fungus Phyllosticta minima
  • Season: The fungus can overwinter in leaf debris and reinfect things in the spring.
  • Susceptible Species: Many maples are susceptible to this, but Amur, Japanese, red, and silver maple seem especially so
  • Treatment: The best treatment is an ounce of prevention. Be sure that the tree's canopy isn't overcrowded, that the tree isn't over or under-watered, that any fallen leaves are removed, that any infected-looking leaves are removed, and that it has proper nutrients. You can also plant resistant strains.
  • Threat Level: Low (mostly cosmetic and doesn't seem to cause lasting structural damage)

Phyllosticta mimima is a relatively small threat to your tree. The damage done by this disease is mainly cosmetic. In severe cases, it can cause defoliation; otherwise, it's a minor stress on the tree's ability to photosynthesize. Having the right set of weather conditions (high humidity and frequent rain) ensures that this disease spreads. High winds also help it migrate. Some strains can cause cankers and blight.

Powdery mildew on a soy bean plant. It'll look similar on a maple.

Powdery mildew on a soy bean plant. It'll look similar on a maple.

9. Powdery Mildew

  • Identification: A superficial, fine powder-like mildew will coat the leaves.
  • Caused By: Erysiphales fungi in the order, especially Podosphaera xanthii (a.k.a. Sphaerotheca fuliginea).
  • Season: Year-round, but seems to favor moderate temperatures and high humidity (such as that which you might find in a greenhouse)
  • Susceptible Species: Norway maple and Japanese maple, but almost all species of maple are susceptible to one strain or another.
  • Treatment: The mildew can be brushed off. You can also apply horticultural oils and neem to help prevent the mildew from spreading.
  • Threat Level: Low (it's superficial).

Powdery mildew doesn't often cause lasting harm to the tree that it's on because it just sits on the top of the leaf (as opposed to getting inside the roots or eating holes in the leaves). The infection is often tree-specific, so a strain that affects a sugar maple likely won't affect a Japanese maple. You can let the mildew sit, and it may resolve itself. You can also resort to fungicides (both natural and chemical) to help fight it. Typically, those are only resorted to on commercial plants and bushes like roses and wheat.

Maple leaf scorch.

Maple leaf scorch.

10. Scorch

  • Identification: Scorch presents itself as drying leaves. Sometimes scorch is as moderate as a lightly browned leaf edge. Other times, it can be as severe as brown, curling, dry leaves that fall off the tree. The leaves' veins may also show signs of browning.
  • Caused By: Weather conditions such as low moisture, high temperatures, and dry wind.
  • Season: Summer.
  • Susceptible Species: All trees are susceptible to this, but Japanese, Norway, and sugar maple are especially sensitive.
  • Treatment: Ensure that your tree is amply watered. You can also put mulch around the tree's base to help improve soil moisture retention. Additionally, you can prune any dead branches to help reduce the tree's stress.
  • Threat Level: Low (if it's just scorch and not indicative of a greater problem).

Unlike many of the items in this article, scorch isn't caused by a bacteria or a fungus, which also means that it's not infectious. It's caused by unfavorably dry weather conditions. The leaves often show the first signs because they're one of the last tree parts to get water, thus they show under-watering signs first. That said, scorch can sometimes be an indication of a more severe underlying cause such as root rot, which affects the tree's ability to absorb water because the aptly named fungus damages the roots, or an insect infestation.

Maple Mosaic Virus on a Flowering Maple

Maple Mosaic Virus on a Flowering Maple

11. Maple Mosaic Virus

  • Identification: White to yellow leaf discoloration that's often kaleidoscopic looking.
  • Caused By: It's a viral infection caused by those of the genus Begomovirus.
  • Season: It's believed to be spread by whitefly feeding, and they're most prevalent during warm weather.
  • Susceptible Species: The flowering maple is especially prone to this.
  • Treatment: There is no treatment for this, and some people even cultivate for this specific virus because consumers like the way it looks.
  • Threat Level: Low (cosmetic).

This virus causes discolored leaves. The discoloration generally ranges from pale white to vibrant yellow. The virus is cosmetic and doesn't affect the tree's ability to flower, grow, and thrive. In some cases—especially with house plants—propagators actually select infected plants since consumers like the way that the infection looks.

12. Pear Thrips

  • Identification: They're winged brown insects that are usually less than 2 cm big when fully grown. They damage the tree by scraping away bits of the leaf to feed, which can cause brown or yellow discoloration on the leaves, defoliation (in extreme cases), small or distorted leaves, or blister-like scars.
  • Caused By: An insect called a pear thrips.
  • Season: They usually emerge from the ground in April. You're likely to see adults in March to May.
  • Susceptible Species: Sugar maples are preferred hosts.
  • Treatment: There are no known treatment options.
  • Threat Level: Low (they may damage the tree's foliage).

Pear thrips spend most of their life underground. The female lays her eggs on the leaves by burrowing into the leaf (this can result in brown scars on it). The eggs are usually lain near buds and blossoms, which the larvae then feed on until they're so heavy that they fall off the leaf. Once they fall to the ground, they overwinter there to reemerge in the spring months.

Maple spindle gall (left) and maple bladder gall (right) are common cosmetic issues that plague maples.

Maple spindle gall (left) and maple bladder gall (right) are common cosmetic issues that plague maples.

13. Galls

  • Identification: There are many gall varieties. They can be green, pink, red, or black depending on which stage they're in. They often look like small wart-like protrusions.
  • Caused By: Most of these varieties are caused by mites.
  • Season: Because there are so many varieties, the seasons vary.
  • Susceptible Species: Varies by mite.
  • Treatment: Plant resistant varieties. Some people have said they've had success with insecticides and/or miticides, but scientific literature doesn't support this one way or another.
  • Threat Level: Low (cosmetic damage).

Galls are abnormal structures formed when a plant's hormones mix with an insect's. This typically happens at a spot where the insect feeds on the tree. There are many different types; some of which are specific to certain trees, some are not. Some variants include:

  • gouty vein gall (caused by Dasineura communis larvae, only affects sugar maples, appears on leaves' veins),
  • maple bladder gall (caused by mites, looks like pimples, likes silver and red maples especially, usually appear in May),
  • maple spindle gall (caused by eriophyid mites like V. aceriscrumena, looks like tall and skinny worms, common on sugar maples),
  • and maple velvet gall (caused by mites; looks like a red velvet patches on leaves; primarily found on silver, Norway, and boxelder maples).


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: A big piece of bark fell off my large silver maple tree. It looks like there are eggs on the underside. What is this?

Answer: I would recommend calling your local Cooperative Extension for identification of the eggs you discovered on the tree bark. Bug varieties differ according to location, and I'm not an entomologist. It may be a borer beetle, but several different beetles affect maple trees. Once the eggs are correctly identified, you can decide the best way to treat your tree.

Question: The bark on my maple tree is peeling. Woodpeckers are active on the tree. Is the tree dying?

Answer: If Woodpeckers are actively seeking bugs on your tree, it may have an infestation of some kind. Woodpeckers can hear insects under the bark and in dead wood, and that is what attracts them.

I copied this from the

"Woodpeckers feed on carpenter worm larvae. Their presence may be an indicator of borer activity. This borer tunnels into the center of the tree trunk or a large limb. This is the escape tunnel. The feeding tunnel is in the heartwood close to the bark or cambium layer. Woodpeckers trying to catch a borer larva sometimes make a line of several holes in the bark over the feeding tunnel.

Carpenter worm infestations are often overlooked. They can be identified by falling major limbs with dark tunnels visible at the break, sawdust at the base of the tree, and an opening plugged with wet sawdust Fungus feeding fruit flies, and dried fruit beetles were seen feeding in large numbers on carpenter worm openings. These insects carry plant pathogenic fungi. Dead major limbs could identify borer infestations."

I'm not an arborist, but I am a maple syrup producer in NY. When the bark is coming off of a tree, and there are woodpecker holes, along with dying limbs, it usually means the tree is dying. Call your local Cooperative Extension office (your county office will have their number), and ask if they can help you identify what bug(s) are attacking your tree, and if the tree needs to come down for safety reasons.

Question: My maple tree is in a pot. I’m guessing, based on what I’ve read, that the roots are compacted. Can I trim the roots and repot it?

Answer: You may trim the roots, but only if it hasn't started to leaf out yet. It is best to trim the roots and limbs when the tree is in a dormant stage (early spring and late fall after the leaves have fallen off).

Eventually you should plant the tree in the ground. The taller it gets, the longer the roots are going to be. The roots are usually as long as the tree is tall, and often much longer.

Question: It is mid-April, and we had to trim some branches from our maple tree for a garage delivery. The sap dripped profusely where we cut the two branches, and the next day the bark turned black. Did we damage or kill the tree?

Answer: I don't believe that you damaged or killed the tree. The black residue is just the sap. You happened to cut the tree when the sap had started flowing in spring (maple syrup making time!).

Your tree should recover - don't cover or treat the areas where the limbs were cut, as they will heal on their own. You may see ants around these areas, but they won't harm your tree - they're just collecting the sap.

Question: My red maple looks like it’s evenly coated in something shiny. The leaves look fine, but they are all sticky. This tree is planted next to a green maple that has no residue. What could this be?

Answer: My first thought on this was cottony maple scale, but it seems early in the season for this particular problem. Here is a link to the University of Minnesota's web page on this particular problem for photos and reference:

It may also be aphids on the other tree causing the sticky honeydew you are describing. You can treat trees with Bayer Advanced 12 month Tree and Shrub Insect Control. In my own experience, this has helped me to eliminate a variety of landscape pests including aphids. Just follow the directions for diluting the product exactly, so it is safe for your plants. You can find this particular product at your local lawn and garden store or megastore with a garden department.

Question: Can I use wood putty to fill the trunk cavity of a maple tree?

Answer: I don't recommend regular wood putty as it shrinks as it dries. You are better off using foam that expands and covering it with a screen to prevent animals and birds from removing the foam. Also, don't use concrete to fill a hole. If the tree has to be cut down in the future, an unsuspecting person cutting down the tree could be injured.

Question: Why aren't my Purple Maples purple?

Answer: Leaves on most maple trees appear green because they absorb a lot of chlorophyll. The purple leaves on a maple tree and other plants are that color because they have a higher amount of anthocyanin than chlorophyll.

The underlying cause of your problem may be related to the amount of sunlight your tree is receiving. If there is too much shade on your tree, the leaves can revert to a green color. Provide it with more sunlight, and the leaves will turn back to a purple shade.


Angela on May 01, 2011:

I live in Dallas ,Texas and have a red maple that we planted four years ago and blooms great every year however this spring as of today I am still awaiting leaves. The tree started buding several weeks ago but we got some really bad storms and for the last month we have had very windy conditions. After a bad storm the buds and new little leaves dried up and seems as though tree still looks it goes in the winter. I see green on the trunk so I don't think it's dead. Do you know what is wrong?

Michelle on April 30, 2011:

We have a very large 40-50 year old Norway maple in our back yard. Last summer the leaves started to turn and fall early. We had two tree people come out to look at it, one told us it was drought and wind damage and to fertilize in the fall. The second told us it looked to be the same and that we had a 50/50 chance of bringing it back in the spring if we fertilized in the fall. My husband did tree spikes in the drip line and broadcast fertilizer in the fall. This Spring only about 25% of the tree is leafing out. The rest looked like it was starting to get buds, yet when I climbed the ladder and touched them, the buds seem dry and just fall off. I am devestated! We have many Maple's in our yard and it could have been any tree but this was our favorite! Reading your other posts you state trees can leaf out more than once in a season if they are stressed, should we be giving up at this point? All our other Norway's on the property are doing fine. We live in Eastern PA.

Thank You for any help!

Lee on April 28, 2011:

Hello Guys


maybe fertilizer burn

I would say the best way to ensure a tree gets adequate nutrients is to put mulch down, an inch or so at the most. its slow release, has nitrogen in it, helps to reduce evapotranspiration, helps retain moisture!, protects from cold weather.

is the soil type the same in their different locations?

is there any grazing going on?, not sure at the moment about no helicopters, will ask a couple of friends of mine over the weekend.

if the leaves are flacid then it maywell be lack of water, long slow infrequent soakings are the best

yes pictures are a big help

glory maples is a common name and these vary in different locations, you are better sticking to the latin names

let me know, cheers

Lee on April 28, 2011:

Hello Guys


you should be able to go to the above link, which is another hub of mine and email me there.

failing that upload the pictures to flickr or picassa and then give me the url's.

where are the roots in relation to the trunk?, are they the butress roots? are they x amount of metres away

How long has the root been exposed or has it always?

is there any environment changes around the tree and its canopy or root system?

has bark been chipped off?

are there any other stress factors, fungi, dieback, insects at the spot?

a handful of pics should be alright

let me know, cheers

Harleyz66 on April 28, 2011:

What an informative website! I've read all the comments regarding Maple Tree problems, but can't seem to find my answer. I did see one poster who seemed to identify with a like problem, but she never replied with pictures so an answer was never provided.

A couple years ago we planted 2 October Glory Maples here in TN.

On one of the trees the leaves seem to be developing holes and it looks as though they're being eaten. Leaves higher up and near the tops are slowly shriveling up and dying. I've checked the leaves for insects, but can't seem to find any. We've had a wet spring, so I've watered only after a couple days of dry weather using Miracle Grow and other types of fertilizer.

Two trees (Same Size) 2 1/2" trunks 12' -14' tall were planted two seasons ago within 20 miles of one another. My tree each year establishes pods a few weeks prior to leaves emerging. The other tree doesn't yet establish pods, but is full of leaves each year and growing quite well. I do still have newer leaves emerging on the problematic tree, but the tree sometimes looks wilted. It looks wilted today and we just received 5-7 inches of rain in the past 72 hours. Both trees receive the same care and watering schedule with fertilizer. Both trees were planted in new home subdivisions where the topsoil was replaced with basic dirt.

Basically, what I'm trying to find out is whether I have an insect problem or the tree isn't receiving enough water. I'm afraid of over watering because I don't want to possibly rot out the roots.

Also, I'm curious as to why one tree sprouts pods (Problematic Tree) and the other one doesn't given the trees are approx. the same age.

I'll be more than happy to post pictures if it will assist in identifying the problem.

Please help as I do not want to lose these wonderful trees.


kathie on April 26, 2011:

Where can I send a picture to? What other info would you like?

cazzart from England , west Yorkshire on April 25, 2011:

could anyone help.. I have 4 acer atropurpureum maples.. 3 are doing well no problems... but one something (I think) eating the leaves... some of the leaves have fallen off the others have very light brown marks on them, kind of thin lines then bigger in parts.... edges of the leaves look like they have been nibbled ...I have had a good look on and under the leaves and so far haven't spotted anything... it's a small plant as ive only had them since last year.. I really don't want to loose it ... any help would be greatly appreciated

thank you


Kathie on April 22, 2011:

I should clarify, the spot has the diameter of an orange.

Kathie on April 21, 2011:

Our well established maple tree has developed an orange-sized black moist spot on one of its exposed roots. Any thoughts?

Lee Curtis from London, UK on March 20, 2011:

For above comment on Maple trees.

New constructions near established trees sometimes affect the tree, compaction of the soil.

Environment changes.

I reckon putting some mulch down, this will suppress the weeds help retain moisture and release vital nutrients back into the soil

whatever you do, you have to be careful of the roots no chopping them.

and if it's dying back consult a qualified arborist.

good luck

ThanksforyourHELP on March 01, 2011:


Four years back our newly constructed home came with two maple trees in our front yard. Through all the 4 years my trees fare the worst compared to any lawn in my neighborhood. The leaves start showing up very late in the spring (that too sparingly). The leaves stay green only for a month or two and then start getting yellow and fall off much before Fall. I water the trees as much as my neighbors.But the trees are always greener on the other side :( I want to help my tree grow. Please help.

PS: I have to sadly also mention that the soil in my yard is not of the best quality since we have to fight a lot of weeds and do a lot of work to get our yard green. But again the whole neighborhood has the same soil. Then why are my trees the only ones not growing :(

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on January 06, 2011:

Hi Jerry, So sorry for the delay in responding to you. The holidays bogged me down! I'm not sure exactly what may be causing the lesions you speak of. Did they occur as a result of a hard frost or a period of freezing weather followed by a warm thaw (or vice versa)? This can cause splits in the bark of maple trees. If this is the case, the tree will bounce back from the injuries, though they may look a little ugly until the tree ages a few more years. Avoid putting any type of paste or tar in the wounds as it only inhibits the healing process from this type of injury.

If this isn't the case, please write back and give me a few more details or contact your county Cooperative Extension office's tree expert for assistance.

jerry on December 12, 2010:

silver maple leasions in bark / separating 8 or 10 years old 30ft tall - we live in texas near austin. any way to save it?

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on December 08, 2010:

Hi Tammy, Some years are just better years for seed production than in others. The tree has to store up energy, sometimes over the span of several years, before it produces a lot of seeds (pine trees need a lot of energy to produce pine cones, for example). Your tree is probably healthy - it was just a prime year for seed production.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on December 08, 2010:

Hi Cindy, My neighbor has a similar problem with bees and a hollowed out tree. While the tree is still alive, obviously it isn't a healthy tree because it has a large hole in it that the bees are living in- the heart of the tree is dying, which is probably what is happening to your tree.

If you don't have a problem with it, you can keep the tree as the bees are using it. Alternatively, you could contact a beekeeper who may be interested in the bees, then cut down the tree (though they would be "wild" bees). I wouldn't cut the tree down with the bees in it though- that's just asking for trouble!

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on December 08, 2010:

Hi Bob, Sap is common; it doesn't signal the end of the tree's life though. Maples can live a hundred years or more if they're in a good spot. I have a row that are so big around, it takes 2, sometimes 3 people to join hands around them! (I'm guessing they were probably around during the Civil War or even earlier). It is too bad if they're causing trouble for you, since they're great shade trees. If you do cut them down, consider selling the lumber instead of giving it away- a healthy, large maple tree (or several) is valuable to lumber dealers.

Cindy on December 04, 2010:

I have a huge old maple in my yard that has recently started leaking water from trunk, about five foot from ground. Any ideas why? Tree has a five year old honey bee colony inside.

Tammy on November 15, 2010:

The trees in my neighborhood have finally lost all of their leaves, and I noticed that my 2 maples have a lot more seeds than any others in the neighborhood. I have lived in my house for 24 years and they were large trees even then. I fear that they might be ill and are sending out seeds in a desperate attempt to leave a new generation behind. The trees have always been healthy, dark nicely shaped leaves and beautiful and they appeared to have the same amount of leaves as they always do. Any information you can give me would be very helpful.

Bob on November 15, 2010:

I have two old silver maples in my back yard. One of them has been trimmed in the past, while the other has pretty much grown on its' own, it is huge. At this point, they cover the driveway, the back deck, and most of the back yard. While they look nice during the season, they are driving me crazy with all the leaves they drop...which I could live with, but they have also started dropping a lot of sap. So now the cars and deck are covered with sticky sap.

I am literally at a point where I am considering having them removed as they are a year round headache as far as maintenance. From helicopters to leaves to the sap...

One arborist said you don't see too many maples reach this age and be relatively healthy. I am curious if the sap is common or a sign that they are nearing the end?

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on October 08, 2010:

Hi Hunter, If the spots are white and fuzzy it is probably leaf spot fungus. It won't kill the tree. The fungus spores will winter over in the dead leaves on the ground, so rake up the leaves in your yard if you don't want it coming back next year. If the spots make an appearance next year, you could spray the leaves with a fungicide; contact your county Cooperative Extension office (in the US) to find out what fungicides are allowed in your area.

Hunter on October 02, 2010:

I have a lot of maple trees were i live and like Lizzannae the small trees that are only around a year old and only have a few leaves. and the leaves have started to turn white and its not bird droppings or any thing it doesn't come off im not sure what's happening to them?

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on October 02, 2010:

Hi Samantha, It sounds like you might be describing a leaf gall. If so, it won't kill your tree, it is just unattractive. The best way to prevent these in the future is to do a good fall cleanup (assuming you don't have dozens of trees, or an untidy neighbor). Fungi overwinter in leaves left in the yard, which will guarantee the same problems again the following year.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on October 02, 2010:

Dear Bella, It appears that you are the one should take a hike. Your Life has called and left you a message: get one, and spend less time surfing the Internet.

BELLA on September 28, 2010:


Samantha on September 21, 2010:

I live in the Minneapolis area. There are three silver maples in my front yard that have recently developed small (not more than 1mm diameter), pointy black dots on their leaves. Most leaves have them and they are sprinkled around the bottom portion of the leaf, closest to the stem. It doesn't look like tar spot, but the dots look like they're part of the leaf so I am wondering if it is a disease. The trees still look healthy. Do you know what it could be?

thanks :)


Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on September 20, 2010:

Hi Bruce, There is a borer beetle that likes maple trees - the Asian Longhorned Beetle. Please check this link from the US National Forest Service: It has photos and contact information if you suspect an infestation in your trees.

Bruce on September 19, 2010:

I live in long Island and Have a Maple that is around 30 years old - I have noticed the last 2-3 years that healthy branches are simply dying throughout the summer. Leaves simply die and fall off while the rest of the tree is healthy. I am suspicious that I have some form of insect boring intop the branches (based on looking at a couple of these branches where they final broke off - This usmmer a health brach came down and you could see where something had basically cut it through part way - Lookinf for suggestions if there are any on treating the tree to keep this from continuing - the tree is starting to look thin

Thanks for any thoughts


Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on September 18, 2010:

Hi Mary, Here are several things to consider:

Leaves that are dry and curl up around the edges usually have sunscald. This doesn't kill the tree- it just makes it look unsightly. Extra watering during droughts can help you avoid this problem.

Leaves that are spotty and are turning brown along the veins of the leaves may signal that the tree has anthracnose. This disease can be managed by removing all debris and dead leaves from around the trees before winter, as the fungus that causes it lives in the debris. In extreme cases, a fungicide needs to be applied - check with an arborist/local Cooperative Extension office to find out what fungicide sprays can be used in your area.

Finally, lots of dead leaves that aren't falling from the branches may signal verticilium wilt, which is a devastating tree disease. A bark sample is needed to correctly diagnose this disease, so if you suspect this, contact an arborist or your Cooperative Extension office to do this for you.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on September 18, 2010:

Hi Lizanne, I'm not sure what you're seeing on the leaves of the trees. Most fungal growths are brown or black, not white, on maple trees. I think a call to your local Cooperative Extension office may offer the answer, as they would be aware of any local conditions/problems in your area.

Just a side note- are there a lot of birds/pigeons in the area you describe? It could be bird droppings.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on September 18, 2010:

Hi David, Assuming the rest of your tree appears okay, this may just be a dead limb that fell. It isn't unusual for a tree that large, and probably old, to lose a few limbs, especially in high winds or other inclement weather. The limb may have been dead and stuck up in the branches for a while before it finally fell down, which would explain the brown, soft center.

If you see shelf-like fungal growths on your tree (which signals heart rot), call an arborist or your local Cooperative Extension office for an on-site inspection. Heart rot can destroy the whole tree rather quickly, from the inside out.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on September 18, 2010:

Hi Susan, (Go Bucks!) There are two things that come to mind when I hear "white fungus" - powdery mildew or heart rot. Powdery mildew is like what it sounds like - a white powdery substance on the branches and leaves of a plant. Heart rot, on the other hand, is much more destructive and may be what you are describing. Heart rot will literally rot away your tree, in many cases destroying a tree within a season or two. Are there shelf-like fungal growths forming on your tree (brown on top, white underneath)? Does the wood look shredded or dry and easily scraped away where the bark/limbs came off? If so, contact an arborist as the tree may be structurally unsound, and may possibly fall over in the next windstorm. Alternatively, you may also contact the Cooperative Extension office in your area (the closest one is probably on the OSU campus) to see if someone could come look at your tree to make an on-site diagnosis of the problem.

Susan on September 10, 2010:

Hi. I live in Columbus Ohio and I have a beautiful sugar maple in my front yard. About three years ago, it started losing some of its bark, just flaking off. Then, last year, I noticed lots of white, spotty looking fungus on the branches. Certain branches are not leafing out anymore and the tree just isn't as full as it used to be. Some branches are dying and fall off during heavy winds. It continues to lose bark, sometimes in large pieces. Whatever it is has now spread to the redbud which is also in front of my home. Do you have any idea what this could be? I do not notice anything strange on any of the leaves. Thank you for any suggestions you may have. I cannot even find a picture of what it looks like anywhere on the internet. Nothing quite matches.


Lizanne on September 05, 2010:

I live in downtown Chicago and for this summer almost all of the maple trees in our neighborhood have developed white spots on the green leaves. It almost looks as though someone has sprayed them with white paint or something. I don't know much about trees but I'm worried about them. I read most of the comments above and have not found any mention of similar problems.

Any ideas what this might be? Is there anything I should look for to help determine a cause?



david on September 04, 2010:

I have a sugar maple that is 60 feet tall. Recently, a limb broke two inches in diameter. It had a brown soft center 3/4 inch in diameter surrounded by normal wood. Is this normal or diseased.

mary on September 02, 2010:

we have a maple tree that has some leaves turning a crispy brown on several limbs. we have had drought problems for a few years. after i noticed this happening, i started watering the tree alot. recently, my neighbor next door told me his maple was just treated for mites. what is causing the leaves to turn brown? they just stay on the limbs too. they don't fall to the ground. thank you for your help.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on September 01, 2010:

Hi Ken, It could be several things, from scorch on the leaves (occurs in dry weather, high temps or windy conditions) to anthracnose (there's more info on this in this hub above). Even though your tree is established, it could still use some water if there is a drought in your area, especially since it is next to a road way where water may not readily get to the roots.

In response to the photos you posted, you could remove the wooden boards from around the tree for aesthetic reasons, and it would prevent litter from collecting there. I would also remove the plastic from around the tree if it is still there as it can harbor pests and encourage fungal growths.

Ken on August 30, 2010:

My tree looks like it's starting to have some problems. I setup a page for it with photos and description .

Any and all help is greatly appreciated and I'll post on the page whatever I find out.



Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 29, 2010:

Hi Indoor Greenhouse Guy- Thanks for the kudos! If you're worried about your trees, a tree surgeon is a good idea. If you're on a budget, you can also call your local Cooperative Extension office too (assuming you're in the U.S.) - often they'll come take a look at your tree at little or no cost.

Indoor Greenhouse Guy on August 29, 2010:

Wow, you've put a lot of work into this Hub, thanks for a great resource! We have three Maples at the end of our garden and I think they're about 30 years old. One has began to look ill over the last 2 or 3 years and im considering a tree surgeon.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 27, 2010:

Hi Alan Crocker, Your problem sounds serious- it may be a borer beetle. Currently, there are several beetles which can kill maples and are considered a threat by the U.S. Forest Service. I suggest you first visit the following website: You can search by state to find out about the invasive insects in your area, complete with photos and descriptions. Second, contact your county Cooperative Extension office- they can visit your tree to make a correct diagnosis of the problem.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 27, 2010:

Hi John S., I wonder what your tree guy thought was wrong with the tree? I tend to go along with what an arborist/nursery person would tell you to do, as they would be aware of any local pests/diseases that would affect your trees. The ants aren't responsible for your tree problems though- they're just the cleanup crew when there is honeydew (caused by a tree injury). If there are holes in the bark, I would think you have a beetle (of the borer variety) responsible. In that case, your tree may be unsavable. If you're in doubt, call your county Cooperative Extension office- they would be able to visit your tree and give you a diagnosis of the problem in person.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 27, 2010:

Hi Mary, There are several beetles that may be responsible, or they could be carpenter ants (which wouldn't kill your tree, they're attracted to the honeydew). What has me concerned is the description of a peat-like material and the color of the insects; I'm not sure whether something is eating your tree (beetle), or if your tree is rotting. In either event, I suggest you contact your county Cooperative Extension office and request that they investigate it. Currently there are several species of beetle that are invading maple and ash trees, killing them in large numbers.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 27, 2010:

Hi Annie Papas, I would definitely say that you have a fungal infection, however, I'm not sure how to tell you to treat it, since I'm only aware of US laws regarding fungicides. I would contact a local nursery or arborist to find out what you could use to treat the tree- it probably can be saved, even if it does have anthracnose.

Alan Crocker on August 25, 2010:

I have a 20" maple tree looking very good leaf wise with little or no dead lims/branches. However nearly all the bark around the tree is pealing off. The wood area under the bark apears dry and has pin holes showing. The tree looks so good but how can it survive? Your comments please

JOHN S. on August 25, 2010:

Hi, we live in central Wisconsin, I have a silver Maple tree in our front yard. Noticed a patch of missing bark about 14" in length by 6 inches in width, at the bottom of the trunk, lots of pincher bugs/ants falling out of the surrounding bark. The exposed tree looks like a bare dead tree in the forest. I have put ant powder and insect replent around it. The bugs seem to be gone. The tree was losing leaves in July, now they are 60% or more gone. Had a tree guy over he said to cut it down. Is there any hope in saving this tree? Thanks

Mary on August 18, 2010:

We live in NW Indiana and have several groves of possibly 35 year old silver maples,last summer we took down one with a triple trunk because between the trunks was some kind of nest that formed rather quickly. It filled the inside of the trunks with what looked like peat but was infested with what looked like very tiny white ants. Now we have a second double trunk that the very same thing is happening to although as I scraped out this peat type material the bugs inside were also tiny but brown and look like ants. Can these be termites and if so is there any way to save this tree before it is totally eaten up? Thanks so much taking the time to post all the information here on your hub.

Annie Papas on August 17, 2010:


many thanks for your blog it is great! My name is Annie and I live at the other side of the Atlantic(in the UK). I desparately need your help please: I suspect that our maple tree has antracanosis. The tree is about 16 years old and over the last months started to loose the outer bark from the trunk and also some of leaves (some of the branches are leafless now). When I scratched the surface of the exposed inner bark,orange dust came off.

Recently brown mushrooms appeared on the grass surrounding the tree (about 2 meters away from the tree) - could that be an indication of fungal infection at the roots of the tree or just a coincidence?

I really want to save the tree. Could you please advise me if there is any treatment I could do to help it?

(I could forward you some pictures if these could be of any). Many thanks in advance - Annie

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 08, 2010:

Hi Peter, You could brace the tree- what you would need is a brace for each side of the tree, so one would be gently pulling one side of the split to bring it together, and the other would be pulling the other side of the split. I hope that makes sense- what you're trying to accomplish is to bring the split back together. Get the kind of braces that are covered with rubber or a similar thick, soft material so that they don't dig into the tree. The only problem I can foresee with this is continuous high winds. If that is a problem where you live, the braces may not work, but regardless, it is worth a try.

Yes, pruning/shaping the tree to reduce the weight on the limbs would definitely help. And yes, wait until fall to do the pruning (once the tree has lost most of its leaves). Let me know if you have any more questions, and good luck!

Peter on August 04, 2010:

Thanks for your response about the split trunk being the likley cause of stress to our Japanese maple. I can definitely see how as the tree is getting older the weight of the branches could be pulling the stems even further apart. You are correct cutting one stem would make the tree asthetically unpleasing, so that isn't really an option. I was wondering if their might be other options? For example I suppose in the short term even more watering would help. In the long term would bracing the trunks help to prevent the splitting? Or would a major pruning reduce the tendency to split the tree and thereby reduce the stress. If so I assume we would have to wait until winter for a pruning?

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 01, 2010:

Hi Brenda, It sounds like you have carpenter ants. They will take advantage of a tree that has damaged/moist wood in trees. Your tree may have much more extensive damage inside, if the carpenter ants have made an appearance. Your tree may need to be cut down, but without seeing the tree in person, it is difficult to correctly diagnose. I recommend that you either contact an arborist in your area or call your county Cooperative Extension office and request that they check your tree in person, then make a recommendation.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 01, 2010:

Hi Susannah, Unless all of the leaves are wilted, or the leaves are dead around the edges and curling, I'd go ahead and apply the fungicide. As long as the tree seems well-watered, it should be fine. Be sure to wait for a good weather day to apply the fungicide, with little or no wind. Good luck!

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 01, 2010:

Hi Siv Low, I think your trees, along with most other people's trees in the U.S., suffered stress with the unusual spring (with a late frost) we had this year. This in turn produces much smaller leaves. The good news is that the trees will recover, and with any luck from Mother Nature, will leaf out in all their glory next year.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 01, 2010:

Hi Peter, I'm not sure exactly what caused the death of the other maple you spoke of, but unless the Japanese Maple is exhibiting the same problem, it probably isn't related. What is killing your tree, I believe, is that it has a split trunk, that is splitting even further. You probably only have one option, which is cutting off one of the trunks that developed in the Y. If that would make the tree aesthetically unpleasing, you probably should just cut down the tree. The reason the leaves are dying is because of the stress, and probably lack of water, due to the split.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 01, 2010:

Hi Eric, The tree is savable, but it also depends on how much you want the tree, and is it aesthetically pleasing. Once the top of the tree has been cut off, especially a very young tree, it may not reach its true height. So, if you wanted a large, shade tree, you may want to replace this one, or just move it to another area of your property where looks/size aren't as important. As for types of trees that do well in high winds- pines usually fit the bill for the conditions you speak of, as do oaks.

Susannah Ray on July 30, 2010:

Last fall, my husband and I planted an October Glory Red Maple in our yard. Around late May, after a very wet spring, he noticed that it was developing spots. I'm pretty sure it's anthracnose and have been picking up any fallen leaves. I had thought that the spots had stopped spreading (I don't seem to be getting any more leaves that turn completely brown), but it's recently put out some new leaves, but those too are developing spots. My big question now is whether or not I should spray it. I bought a "multipurpose fungicide, insecticide, and miticide" a while back (per the recommendation of the nursery where I bought the tree), but when I got home, I realized the directions said "Do not apply to wilted or otherwise stressed plants or to newly transported material prior to root establishment" - and it looks to me like the tree is pretty stressed out. So what should I do?

Peter on July 27, 2010:

Hi there another post from the Pacific northwest about our red japanese maple. I took some photos today of our tree and the leaves but could not figure out how to attach them to my posting so I thought I would add a more detailed verbal description. Our tree is approximately 15 ft tall and 30 ft wide. The the trunk is >1 ft in diamter and has a split trunk (i.e two main stems from the base). The dying leaves (almost all at this point) are generally green in colour (even though it is a red maple) but the dead portion is purple and curled under. The leaves have numerous small holes in them as if they are being eaten by insects. I am not sure if it is related but a few years ago another large apparently healthy bigleaf maple (a local native species. approx. 2 ft diameter)on our property got some kind of whitish mildew on the leaves and the next year the tree was 100% dead.

Thanks again for any help or suggestions.

Peter on July 26, 2010:

We live in the Pacific Northwest and have a large (approx 30 year old) well established Japanese Red Maple tree (not sure of the exact species)that has been suffering leaf die off in summer for the last three years. The tree look great in spring,and the first year it seeemd to be limited to only a few branches, but it appeared many of these branches also died after the leaves fell. Last year there were even more dead leaves, and some of the dead branches were split. This year the die off is extensive and we have lost 75% of the leaves on the entire tree. They just seem to dry up and die. From what I have read watering should not be required for a well established tree in our area (we also had a very wet spring)and I am worried the tree has reached the end of it's life span.

I hope you have some thoughts and suggestions.

Siv Low on July 24, 2010:

I have a mature maple ( about35 - 40 years old) This year the leaves a much smaller than normal.

What could be wrong?

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on July 20, 2010:

Hi Brian, I live in NY too. Yes, I suspect the weather is the reason behind your tree's condition. Lots of water and perhaps a little tree fertilizer should help your trees survive the summer. This condition you describe is sun scorch; the leaves may turn yellow or red, and in severe cases, turn brown and curl up around the edges. Trees usually recover from this condition when they're heavily watered (10-15 mins) every 3-4 days when there is no rain.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on July 20, 2010:

Hi Natasha, I believe you are describing leaf scorch- the outer perimeter of the leaf becomes dry and brown and the edges curl up. The inner part of the leaf around the veins may remain green. Severely affected trees may exhibit leaf loss. Leaf scorch seldom kills trees; deep watering is the recommended treatment. Your tree(s) should recover if it is kept well watered during drought conditions.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on July 20, 2010:

Hi Pat Pope, I don't think your tree is sick, rather, the age of the tree has much to do with what you're seeing. Older maples tend to leaf out on the outermost part of the branches, while the inner parts of the branches have fewer leaves and small branches. In addition, if the leaves seem smaller this year (and perhaps last year as well), I believe it may be due to the late frosts we've had. My maple leaves are much smaller, for example, because the initial set of leaves were hit by frost right before they opened.

Make sure your tree gets plenty of water during drought periods this year and perhaps use a liquid tree fertilizer or tree fertilizer spikes to help it quickly get over any stress. Follow the directions closely using these types of products so you don't burn the tree roots.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on July 20, 2010:

Hi cindi, The trees are probably under some sort of stress; it could be anything from not enough water to pests or even pesticides being used in the area. You could call the city to find out the reason (they may be aware of it) or call your county's Cooperative Extension office for answers.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on July 20, 2010:

Hi Jeff, It sounds like sun scorch. I have it on my maple trees in my own front yard as well. In my case, the temps were in the high 80's to 90's for over a week without rain. Rest assured, your tree will recover from scorch. Keep giving it plenty of water during drought conditions, such as watering it directly for the 10-20 minutes every 3-4 days (minimum). Sprinklers are fine during normal temps/conditions.

Eric on July 16, 2010:

Hi- I have a 3yr. old Autumn Blaze Maple. The trunk diameter is about 3" wide and the tree is about 7ft. tall. About 1 month ago, the tree was staked down and during a storm the top 1/3rd of the tree snapped off as well as a few lower branches. I cut the top cleanly at a downward angle and began watering daily. The leaves are turning red and I skipped a day of watering and on side the leaves are dying (brown and curling). I'm in the mid-west and temps are in the upper 80's -90's. Is this tree savable or should I pull it up and start over with a new one? If so, do you have a recommendation for a young tree planted in full sun and exposed to high winds? Thank you!

Brenda on July 16, 2010:

Hi - I noticed what looked like sawdust around the base of my large soft maple tree. When I investigsted a little further I saw large black ants working hard on an old spot where a rather large limb had been pruned before we moved here 14 years ago. I'm guessing it is a soft spot in a 50 year old tree. Will these ants kill my tree? Should I try to get rid of them and if yes, how do I go aboput it?

Brian on July 13, 2010:

Hi -- I have a red maple about 60 years old. Over the past few weeks, after a prolonged period of dry and very hot weather in NY, the leaves have turned from red to a greenish brown color and are drooping. Is this occurring from a lack of water? If so, will simply watering the area around the tree avoid any long-term damage/death? Thanks!

Natasha on July 13, 2010:

Hi Gerber, just moved into a house with medium sized acer trees, I have no clue about gardening but think the trees might need some help! one of them is yellow/green in colour with reddish tips. The leaves are very small but the tree is quite dense, the leaves have curled from the tips and the tree looks like its dying. The second has deep red/purple leaves that now has little yellow spots on the leaves. Do you think these can be fixed, and if so how can i do this?


Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on July 11, 2010:

Hi Randy, I'm guessing that the leaves have spots, like tar spots? If not, it could be leaf scorch, which is like your description, minus the spots. Leaf scorch can be remedied with deep watering during hot or windy conditions.

Anthracnose is different from leaf scorch in that the browning occurs in random spots on the leaves and along the veins. Leafscorch occurs around the perimeter of the leaf.

If you're still unsure whether your tree has anthracnose or not, contact your county Cooperative Extension office- they can come out and examine your trees to make a correct diagnosis.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on July 11, 2010:

Hi Mike, Even though you state the tree is being watered well, it still sounds like leaf scorch, which can be remedied by deep watering during periods of dry weather and high winds. Additionally, the pot is causing restriction of the roots, which is contributing to the problem. If possible, get this tree planted ASAP in an area with as little wind as possible. Water it frequently as it will be more susceptible to disease if the situation isn't reversed soon.

Just to be clear about the symptoms of leaf scorch- the outer perimeter of the leaf becomes dry and brown and the edges curl up. The inner part of the leaf around the veins may remain green. Severely affected trees may exhibit leaf loss. Leaf scorch seldom kills trees; deep watering is the recommended treatment.

Pat Pope on July 11, 2010:

For the past 3 years my Schwedler Maple (25 years old) has leafed out beautifully but when you sit under it & look up most of the bmaller branches are bare & look dead. After any windstorm there is always a plethora of these small dead branches scattered on the ground. I'd like to help this tree before it's shade is completely gone. To look at it from any angle other than while standing under the canopy, the tree looks full & healthy. No sign of anything other than a few earwigs around the tree. Please help. My husband gave me this tree for our 6th Anniversary. Thans.

cindi on July 11, 2010:

our city has maple trees lined up all over the place. i have noticed that the trees are green and beautiful but the leaves are falling off green like it was fall but all the leaves are green what is happening? never seen this before.

Jeff on July 10, 2010:

Hi Gerber,

I have a 5 year old silver maple that I grew from a seed that fell from my parents tree. It's been in my front yard growing very well for the past few years, and stands 10+ feet tall now. This year it has been growing just fine, many leaves and new branches, nice deep green color. Just within the last week or two I have noticed that the leaves are uniformily turning scarlet color, however are not dried out or spotted in any way. All my research says the tree is stressed, but I cannot figure out why. I soak the ground for about 3 days, once a month during the summer, and it gets water from the lawn sprinklers every third day for approx 20 mins. Any ideas as to what's happening and how I can fix it? I am very attached to my baby tree and want to see it survive. Thanks in advance, Jeff in central valley CA.

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randy on July 06, 2010:

Our 5 year old Maple started losing leaves in the center of the trunk about 6 weeks ago. Now there are leaves all over the tree that are turning brown from the viens outward. I was told it could be Anthracnose, but uncertain how to treat it or if it is treatable this late in the season?

Mike on July 06, 2010:

Hi Gerber,

Sounds like you're the go to guy for maple problems!

My wife and I just brought home a gorgeous new Fireglow about 2 weeks ago. Everything was fine - in the last week we had one savage windy day. Now, about 4 days later selective leaves are curling on the tree. It doesn't seem to be any particular size of leaf or location. However, I'd say about 60% of the leaves are fine and 40% have this curling problem. Where the leaves curl it can be just the "toes" of the leaf or the whole leaf. On the same branch one leaf could be curling tightly and the one adjacent could be perfect. The curled leaves are very very dry but not discoloured. The plant is still in it's pot but it has been kept watered - not that it's particularly sunny or hot here. Temp is about 16-22 degrees normally. I don't see any damage to bark or any sign of insects.

We have a separate bloodgood acer which used to be in the far corner of the garden. Due to the huge wind we put all the trees and plants together in the most sheltered part of the garden.

Now .. the bloodgood appeasr to be exhibiting the same problem.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thanks in advance.


Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on July 04, 2010:

Hi Pat, Sounds like you have mealy bugs, which are sucking insects (I just added a photo of them to my slide show - slide #9). Yes, the Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub will get rid of them, but it may take a week to two weeks to totally kill them all. The Bayer treatment is absorbed through the roots of the trees, then as the bugs suck on the tree sap they will die. Go ahead, get a bottle of it and get an application on the ground ASAP. Next year, do this treatment once in the spring after the last frost and you'll avoid these bugs altogether.

As for the red/black spots, I agree - they're probably galls and those don't cause the leaking sap problem, nor will they kill your tree.

Pat on July 03, 2010:

Help! My husband has been threatening to cut down our silver maples and I am beginning to agree with him. We have lived in our house in Pennsylvania for 20 years and have never experienced this problem with our trees. They have been drippping sap since spring to the point we cannot park in our driveway without cleaning the windshield first. You cannot sit on the deck without washing down the table and chairs first. Everything is covered. I thought this would go away with summer but I think it is getting worse. The leaves themselves look fine but they look wet and shiny. When you touch them they are sticky. Under the branches are little white cottony balls - about the size of an eraser. There are red/black dots on the top of the leaves also (looks like your maple bladder gall pictures) but we have had that in the past. Would the Bayer product work on this problem? If so how long before you see results and would it work on huge trees? Thank you for any help you can provide.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on July 03, 2010:

Hi Sam, Some maple trees this past spring experienced die back due to a late frost/cold snap. If this is the only problem you notice, the tree may sprout a second set of leaves this summer, but they will be smaller than those on the "good side" of the tree. I would take a "wait and see" approach if the rest of the tree appears to be in good health, and it was healthy overall last year. In addition, try using a one-time application of a tree fertilizer to help your tree recover more quickly. Personally, I've had luck with Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub (available at WalMart and other similar stores in the garden section) for my maples.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on July 03, 2010:

Hi S. Baker, The spots sound like a fungal problem, but it also sounds like possibly something more serious, like verticillium wilt. Since you're actually losing trees to this I really think you should call your county Cooperative Extension office and request that they come inspect your trees. Don't plant any more maple trees until you have an answer as to what is causing the problem. If you have verticillium wilt, it lives in the soil and will continue to attack any new maples that you plant.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on July 03, 2010:

Hi Paul, The foam insulation idea is intriguing, I've never used it in that way! I'm not sure how big this particular hole is- but you can also use pruning wax (available in a can) for filling holes that aren't incredibly huge. I don't think I would use cement though, only because eventually it will crack/pull away from the tree when exposed to the weather after a few years. Plus, the additional weight may not be good for the tree.

If your only concern is the ants, they aren't harming the tree; they're just attracted to the sap that the tree is dripping after the injury. Once the tree has begun healing, the sap will stop and the ants will disappear.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on July 03, 2010:

Hi Patty and Sally, I think the two of you have the same problem- mealy bugs or scale insects. I've added a photo of them to the slideshow above in my article. To treat mealy bugs/scale, I've found the easiest way is to use Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub. It kills sucking insects, which are causing the "honeydew" (sticky, syrup-like substance) on your trees. You can get this product at places like WalMart, Lowe's and other similar stores or garden nurseries. Follow the directions exactly, and use it only once per year, since it also has a fertilizer in it.

Sam Enoch on July 02, 2010:

I have a maple tree in my back yard. Half of the tree has leaves. The other halh of the tree is what I believe to be dead. No leaves, branches are very brittle and brake easly. Any suggestions?

S Baker on June 20, 2010:

Hi, I've been planting sugar maples (small 18-24 inch saplings) on my property in Michigan for 5 years. I purchased some nice 12 foot trees last fall and planted them. Everything seemed to be fine but now most of the leaves are dead (dry up and turn brown) on one of the larger trees and the other one has lost a lot of the leaves in the top 1/3 of the tree. I have noticed that some of my small trees have brown spots on the leaves. Is it a fungal problem? What should I do?

Also I lost two larger sugar maple trees last year. Same thing happened, lost the leaves and then the trees died. I am ready to give!

Paul Gutowski on June 20, 2010:

I have a large old Maple that has a large hole from where a large branch came off and it is filled with large black ants. Is there something I can fill this hole with like a foam insulation product? I have seen cement used but it would take a very large amount.

Thank you,

Paul Gutowski

Sally Fisher on June 12, 2010:

Some dead branches have fallen from my enormous maple tree and are covered with white globs of white sticky stuff. I don't see anything inside the globs which are about the size of a dime. As I look up into the tree, I see the same 'stuff' lining the healthy branches. This stuff seems to be on the lower 1/3 of the tree. I'm guessing the height of the tree at about 50' and do not know how old it is because I've only lived here 3 years. No stuff was seen the last 2 years. Thank you...

Sally Fiher

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on June 12, 2010:

Hi Paul and Amber, What someone told you about scraping the injured bark from the tree is true- it is called tracing. I'm providing a link to photos and a description of how to do this process from Cornell University:

This condition you describe is sometimes caused by a late frost followed by a rapid thaw, thus causing splits in tree trunks. The ants are coming because of the sap that is coming from the wound. They'll go away once the tree starts healing. If you're unsure about how to care for the tree or perform the tracing, call your county Cooperative Extension office for assistance- they have tree specialists who are ready to help.

Patty on June 12, 2010:

Hi I have a maple tree in my back yard that has sap leaking on the west side of the tree. There seems to be insects the move within the bark of the tree. the sap only goes about three feet down the tree, and the tree looks wet in the area until you get close to observe it then you see that the sap is being leaked out of the tree. should I spray the tree for the insect? What is you suggestion pls

Paul and Amber on June 11, 2010:

EARLY TREE DISEASE??? We have what may be a Japanese maple, about 15 feet tall, in front of our house in eastern Maryland. Soil is not very well drained, high amounts of clay and low lying, and it has been a very rainy year so far and much of last one too, but the tree has good drainage from where it stands as our yard slopes from there. On the south side of the bark it has a vertical thinly split region about 2 inches long with the bark around this sore turning black, and evidence of sticky maple dripping down the trunk under it and two feet down to the mulch below, where there are lots of tiny ants moving all around and up the trunk itself. I read elsewhere about using a sterile knife to cut around the sore and help the tree heal more efficiently (allegedly). Doesn't sound unreasonable, but not really sure what the root cause is, so hesitant how best to act.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on June 11, 2010:

Hi MelissaJ, The damaged root could be the source of the problem with the one side of the tree. In the late fall you may want to prune any dead branches, if that is what has happened to that side of the tree.

As for the tree not faring well, it probably will rebound since you have taken steps to correct the exposed root. While I hate to sound like a broken record lately, I've been using the Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub to treat my maples and other plants that were hit with the late frost. It helps reduce stress and stops many insects that would otherwise bother your trees. It only needs to be applied once a year. Next, I would make sure that the tree gets enough water if you don't have a lot of rainfall- your tree will need this kind of TLC all summer.

I don't think your tree is dying- it just needs a little extra care. Hopefully there won't be a late frost again next year!

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on June 11, 2010:

Hi Scott M., I think you are describing Maple Leaf Gall, which is a fungus. Check out my slideshow at the beginning of my article- slide #7 is a photo of this type of gall. While it can be treated with a fungicide, it usually needs to be done by a professional, especially if the tree is large. It is important to note that maple leaf gall will not harm the tree- it is just unsightly.

As for your tree not growing as fast as you think it should, many maples this year and last were stressed because of the late frost that hit them. To counter this, try using a mild fertilizer (I use Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub)- you only need to use it once a year. Next, make sure your tree is getting enough water. If it isn't raining frequently, give the tree a good watering at least once a week. Your tree should rebound by mid-July; maple trees are generally very hardy.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on June 11, 2010:

Hi Jeremy, Maples have had a really tough year, and many had it rough last year as well. The late frost, coupled with what seems like an increase in sucking insects are really stressing out the trees. I think the Bayer Advanced should help with reducing stress to your tree. Now the waiting game begins- most maples can leaf more than once when they are stressed, so your tree may show improvement by July. In the meantime, make sure your tree gets watered weekly (minimum) if there isn't any significant rainfall in your area.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on June 10, 2010:

Hi June, The gall condition won't kill the tree, but it is unsightly. The only thing to be done, other than ignore it, is to treat it with a fungicide. This is best done by a professional- especially if you have a large tree.

Scott M. on June 10, 2010:

Great Site!

I have a young maple that has little pointed tips on the face of all the leaves, they are about 1/4 inch long and there are about 10 to 20 on every leaf. The tree is leafing well but not growing good. This is the second year I have noticed this. I haven't seen anyone else here with this problem.

Thank you for all your help.

MelissaJ on June 09, 2010:

I bought my house about 4 yrs ago and there's a maple tree in the middle of my backyard. Last year it was not as full and this year it has even less leaves than last years. About a 3/4 of the tree has sparsh leaves and then 1/4 has no leaves at all (about 2 large branches on the same side). Part of the root had been exposed and damaged and grass had grown right up the root. I've covered the shown root and removed the grass that was right up to the tree. Is there anything else that you can suggest? or is it slowly dying? I don't know how old the tree is but it's not as full as the ones around my neighbour which are fine.

Jeremy on June 08, 2010:

I have a couple autumn blaze maples that started to leaf this spring, but then lost it leaves and now only has leaves on part of the tree on one and almost none on the other. When inspecting the tree I noticed several of the ends of the branches had a small insect stuck to them. The insect is dead, but stuck to the ends where the leaves had died off. The insects look a bit like a musquito. I have treated the tree with Bayer Advanced a month or so ago. Any ideas? Thanks!


June on June 08, 2010:

I have a maple tree that has the Maple Spindle Gall. What do I do for it or can anything be done? Thanks for any comment.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on June 07, 2010:

Hi Mike in Houston, The problem your tree is experience is probably related to either not enough water throughout the growing season (the Japanese maple needs a lot!), or it is exposed to a lot of wind. Alternatively, the Japanese maple is susceptible to two other problems that cause similar leaf problems: aphids (visible on the underside of leaves), which leave a sticky residue - I use Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub, as it kills sucking insects and fertilizes at the same time. Another problem is Verticillium Wilt - requires pruning to remove the affected branches. I'd go with the least invasive methods first, since you're not sure of the source of the problem.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on June 07, 2010:

Hi Mike, I suspect, based on your location, that your maple was anothr casualty of this year's late frost. Maple trees can leaf out more than once during a growing season if they are stressed, so hang in there. The tree should recover, though it may be a month or so before you see any improvement. In the meantime, help your tree avoid any more stress- give it a mild tree fertilizer (I use Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub once a year, available at nurseries and WalMart, for example), and be sure it is watered well at least once a week when there isn't sufficient rain.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on June 07, 2010:

Hi Theresa, Are there other trees, specifically maple trees, in your neighborhood that are exhibiting the same problem? I'm guessing it may be due to the late frost this year, which affected maple trees just about everywhere. If the rest of your tree looks okay, I suspect that it was just to do a late frost. Otherwise, problem indicators you should look for include insects and insect damage, and cracks or other damage to the bark of the tree- these indicate other problems that would require treatment. Feel free to call your local Cooperative Extension as well- they can tell you if there is a disease or frost damage issue in your area.

Mike on June 06, 2010:

We have a young Sugar Maple (4" diameter) that has looked healthy for the 10 years that it has been planted in our back yard. This spring it has yet to leaf out. In the last 2 weeks at the base of the lower branches (center of the tree) it has begun to leaf out, but no leafs yet on the surrounding branches. We live in the suburbs of Chicago and the soil consists of a fair amount of clay. Will the tree come back? Any advice that you can offer would be helpful. Thanks!