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Maple tree diseases

AgBar

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#1
Anyone here know a thing or two about tree diseases?

This is the maple tree in front of my house. Starting a few years ago, many of the leaves would start withering and dying on the branch starting in late July or so, while the remaining green leaves would develop black spots, but would last until autumn and turn and fall like normal. Last year the bark around the base separated from the wood underneath. This year the damaged portion of the tree looks to be more than half of the leaves, and the die-back started in early July. Notice also that instead of black-ish spots, the green leaves have brown smudges.

This is a city tree on city property, so I can't just take it down. I called them and had the forestry department come out. This was back in spring when the tree's leaves looked normal. The city said it was "healthy" despite the gaping hole in its bark. I'm calling them again for another examination now that it's clearly not healthy.

Any ideas as to what this is? I'm surrounded by maples (heck, most of the city looks like it was carved through a forest), and don't want this spreading.
 

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D-FENZ

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#2
I can't speak to the leaf issues but the bark issue is almost certainly 'sun scald'. Some maple cultivars are quite susceptible to that. The damage occurs from warm days and cold nights when the sap starts flowing when warmed and then freezes at night splitting the bark. My bet is that the damage is on the south side because that's where the sun warms it. I have 2 prominent maples in my yard that I have fixed by insulating the south sides of the trunks with a burlap blanket for the winter starting when they drop their leaves in the fall. It took about 5 years for the damage like yours to heal almost completely. But it needs done every year.
 

Pyramid

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#3
What species of Maple is it? Norway Maple (an introduced, invasive species) get the black spots that you describe even in relatively healthy trees at the end of summer. Millions of Silver and Norway Maples have been planted as street and landscape trees going back a century or so. They are weedy and grow fast in their first few decades, then become a serious problem when growth is constricted by sidewalks, roads, etc. and become a liability with dead branches etc.. Maples are largely forest trees, they don't do well in full sun long-term.

D-FENZ may be correct with sun scald regarding the trunk. It could have also been hit by a mower and/or weed wacker multiple times that wounded the trunk, in conjuction with being compromised by urban factors.
 

Joe King

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#4
Norway Maple (an introduced, invasive species) get the black spots that you describe even in relatively healthy trees at the end of summer.
Tar spot disease is supposedly caused by a fungus, which is probably what's wrong with his tree.
....and it drops leaves due to being stressed.
 

gnome

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#5
That damage to the bark is pretty bad and will probably kill the tree eventually, but not before it the tree becomes big and problematic.

If it were in front of my house, I'd experiment with grafting bark from upper limbs to the trunk wound, just to see if I could do it. With a little creativity and patience, I bet you could seal that wound entirely with it's own bark.