Industry News: Tree Health

Q: Young crimson king maple has scarce leaves and brittle branches--what's wrong?

Friday, July 29, 2016  

Q: I have a young crimson king maple I planted two years ago. It was about 12 feet tall when planted. This year, there are scarce leaves at the top of the tree, and the lower branches are bare and brittle. There is a silvery green fungus-like covering moving up the tree from the bottom that covers the whole outside, and the bark is cracking in some places. It doesn't look like lichen. Can I save my tree?

A: There are certainly numerous commendable reasons to select crimson king maple, but this species is not without its issues. It has a natural tendency to wear strong summer heat on its leaves, with browning edges making it less beautiful. If you've suffered through successive years of drought, you can expect a water-loving tree like maple to suffer more than other species. The silvery green may or may not be a sign of problems, but certainly the loss of canopy is. Try an additional watering each week, but no fertilizer. If it has reserves to pull through, then you can always feed it later, but when it is ailing you don't want to add fertilizer salts to stressed roots. Also try googling verticillium wilt on maple to see if any symptoms fit. Prune off dead wood. Good luck.

Responder: David Jahn, RCA #425, Des Moines, IA