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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.
 

DodgebyDave

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#6
if you hang a politician from your maple tree it won't look so bad
 

D-FENZ

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#7
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.
Unfortunately I don't have a before picture of the sunscald damage but this is today's scar. 5 years ago it looked just like the damage shown in the OP photo. But after covering the truck every winter, as you can see it is healing fairly well. I wire on some burlap coffee bags stuffed with some straw for the winter cover (I get them at Theisen's for a buck apiece or so). I've seen some people use a colorful, festive looking afghan or quilt. Whatever you use, it should be covered for the winter starting about first frost or so to avoid sunscald.

IMG_4519[1].JPG
 

AgBar

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#8
Wow, I honestly thought that I had replied to this thread. Maybe I never hit the send button? Maybe I'm just confused.

Anyway, thank you all for the suggestions.

I believe the tree is a Sugar Maple, specifically. The entire block was re-treed by the city about 25 years ago (I've been here for 30), all with the same species. So I assume they were all from the same crop. This is the only tree on the block that looks so unhealthy.

D-Fenz, how much burlap did you use? And I assume the burlap comes off in the spring? And yes, the damage is on the south-west side of the tree (south-east is in the shadow of a neighboring house for most of the year). And we have had a few years of weird cold season weather with frequent freeze-thaw cycles.

As for the leaves, I looked up tar spots and that does indeed look like what I had seen previously. However this year the leaves simply wither with that brown scarring starting around the edges. They don't fall, they just die on the branch.

City forestry is coming sometime this week to re-inspect.
 

GOLDBRIX

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#9
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.
The Silver Maple is one on the least expensive trees builders plant on home property as FHA used to have a qualifier for .gov back loan of two trees required on the property.
Plus they are a quick growth species and could be the reason cities plant them on .gov properties.
Here were in a Hard Drought Condition no measurable rain in over 25 days. Trees around here have already began dropping their leaves. It will not be a colorful fall in these parts this year. Unless you love various shades of brown.
 

AgBar

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#10
Nah, it's definitely not a silver maple. There are a few of those around here (they stand out for their size, shape, and color), some obviously almost 100 years old or more. These trees are almost certainly sugar maples.

And no drought conditions here for a long time. We get rained on constantly.
 

D-FENZ

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#11
...D-Fenz, how much burlap did you use? And I assume the burlap comes off in the spring?...
I wire on 2 burlap coffee bags per south side of each tree and add a bit of straw in each for extra insulation. You could wrap the whole trunk I suppose. The idea is to keep the tree trunk from thawing once it freezes. Yes, in the spring they come off.
 

DodgebyDave

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#12
you have two jack russells peeing on the tree....that would kill the entire forest!
 

D-FENZ

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#14
Now, now, now...they have a squirrel tree up don'tcha know.
Not sure if there's a squirrel up there or not. They do think I'm a rainmaker though. They're expecting the tree to rain squirrels or chipmunks because my camera looks enough like a 22. There's one tree in the yard that Charlie can actually climb. But most times they will camp out at the base of the tree, sometimes for over an hour waiting for one of 'em to come down. Have to go and actually carry them away from it when it's time to go.
 

D-FENZ

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D-Fenz, how much burlap did you use? And I assume the burlap comes off in the spring? And yes, the damage is on the south-west side of the tree (south-east is in the shadow of a neighboring house for most of the year). And we have had a few years of weird cold season weather with frequent freeze-thaw cycles.
IMG_4524[1].JPG


Ten years ago when the sunscald damage first appeared, now that I think about it, looked like damage from a cat trying to use the trunk as a scratching post or something- more like a mountain lion. It's kind of a pain but this is the late fall ritual for those maples now.
 
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ErrosionOfAccord

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Explains the leaves AND the bark. I planted a silver maple about 12 years ago. Aside from an early snow taking the top out in October of '13, it's been a great fast growing tree. I take great care with the weed eater to avoid damaging the bottom of my trees and think this goes a long way to avoid suckers. My Canadian Red hasn't produced suckers and they are notorious for producing them.

https://www.gardenguides.com/103871-maple-trees-sun-damage.html
 

Goldhedge

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