Ask a Consulting Arborist Q&A: Leaf, Seed, and Flower Concerns

Q: Maple leaf growth seems stunted. Some leaves have spots and some are curled. What's wrong?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015  

Q: I have an older maple on my property but have noticed the same condition on younger trees in town. This past spring, the leaf growth seems stunted; some leaves have 1/4" brown spots, and some are curled tight with an insect's webbed nest inside. It was a very dry and cold spring, but not all maples are affected. My older maple's neighbor looks fine, for example. The affected tree occupies a strategic privacy spot--I'd hate to lose it!

A: Based on your description, the problems could have an environmental and/or cultural source. There were a number of cool, damp nights this spring in New Jersey, which gave rise to numerous, yet predominantly superficial, problems with tree foliage.

Generally, some reduced growth, inconsistent leaf spot, and a few leafrollers on a mature maple tree are not concerning. However, if the neighboring tree is the same age and species of maple, I would expect to find similar issues across both trees. The difference between the two trees could be the result of genetic diversity or subtle variations in environmental exposure, soil conditions, and/or cultural practices (such as lawn treatments, mulching, irrigation, etc.). I recommend that you have a qualified arborist inspect the site and tree to determine if there is a more concerning underlying condition.



Responder: Jason Miller, RCA #526, Cinnaminson, NJ