Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum' suddenly sick?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by dmoulton, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. dmoulton

    dmoulton Member

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    For some unknown reason, this spring it has been very poor with foliage. Only a two branches have sprouted leaves and the remaining buds look as though they will not grow any further. They are dried up and on woody branches, but looked healthy in February.

    There are also a couple of very small sprouters poping out directly on the main trunk.

    Not sure what do so as this tree has been healthy year after year with an abundance of green, now all of a sudden, we are met with a very mild winter and this has happened. Does anyone know what has happened?
     
  2. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Hi dmoulton, sad to hear your 'Aureum' is not doing so well this year. There is not really enough info in your post to determine what the problem is, hence the lack of replies so far. The usual causes of such problems are a reaction to environmental stress and/or a fungal or bacterial infection, but that doesn't help you any.

    Posting some photos would be the best thing you could do to help anyone to possibly diagnose the problem, maybe a shot of the whole tree and a close-up of the affected area. Also how large is the tree? What percentage of it failed to leaf out? Is the problem at the top or bottom? Is the problem in the area that is most exposed to sunlight? Has anything changed in the environment, such as a winter flood or the removal of a shade tree or a windbreak?

    If the portion that is leafing out is looks healthy there is still hope. I have seen massive top dieback in a shirasawanum 'Aureum' (caused by environmental stress in this case, I suspect), but the 20+ year old tree has regrown strongly from the lower section, with over 50 shoots growing between 20cm and 45cm (8"-18") each last spring, and all buds looking healthy and fat this spring.
     
  3. dmoulton

    dmoulton Member

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    Hi...

    thank you so much for your reply. I have been checking this thread regularly hoping somebody could help. I have attached 3 photos. The first photo you can see it next to my 2 foot tall garden knomes which give you an idea of height. It is pretty mature for a golden full moon maple.

    The next photo is of the green leafy part at the top of the tree. It looked like all buds were going to turn out this way a couple of months ago and now they are just dried up.

    The third photo is a close up of the buds. You can see they are not all dry and there are trace of life(red color) on some of the twigs. This is giving me some hope, but normally at this time of year the whole tree shines with beautiful full fluorescent green leaves.

    The only environmental change that occured was that this year in Vancouver BC we had a record breaking mild winter. I am wondering if this tree woke from dormancy too soon when we experienced all that sunshine in January? It doesn't completely explain the problem because not very far away from me (near Haro and Thurlow in downtown vancouver) there is a very healthy golden full moon maple that is covered in green healthy leaves.

    again, thanks for your help. I want to do anything I can to save this one.

    Dawn
     

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  4. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    I can see quite a few dead twigs, but also some viable looking buds that have not opened yet, so all is not lost. From what I can tell from the pictures, there are some blackened branch tips so it is quite possible that there may be a Pseudomonas infection, see this thread: Look at post no. 6 for an explanation of Pseudomonas syringae pv. aceris. There is also the possibility that some young wood did not ripen properly before winter if the autumn was mild, which could either cause the dieback itself, or make it easier for the Pseudomonas to enter through damaged tissue.

    Be aware there may also be some underlying cause that may have weakened the plant and made it more susceptible to infection.

    Cut out any obviously dead (light grey) or infected (blackened) twigs, to just above a healthy looking bud, or where they join a larger limb. Disinfect the pruning tools after each cut and burn (or dispose of safely) the pruned twigs. Whatever the cause of the dieback, this type of pruning is the best next step. Then just wait and see, good luck.
     
  5. dmoulton

    dmoulton Member

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    thanks...since your post I have been watching the tree to determine which branches are dead and which ones are alive. Sometimes it can be hard to make this call, so I am thinking of waiting until mid-June or so to be sure. Do you think waiting is giving the disease more time to grow?

    Also, I a couple of local garden centers have offered that if I bring in the dead branches they will help me determine what exactly caused the sickness. When I get an answer from them I will post.
     
  6. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    If you are not sure if a branch is still alive, it is a good idea to wait and see as you suggest, but I should think you will know before June. Many of the smaller twigs are obviously dead and it would be advisable to remove those ASAP.

    Has the tree sent out any more leaves since you posted the pictures? Are the leaves it has sent out looking healthy? If it has stalled that is not a good sign.

    How is the drainage in the area? If the tree became waterlogged during the winter there is a chance much of the roots have been killed in which case the tree will start to leaf out, then stall and die, which I hope is not the case here.

    I would take advantage of the garden center's offer to test the twigs as soon as possible. The more information you have the better. Good luck.
     
  7. dmoulton

    dmoulton Member

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    I have taken a long time to determine the answer to you question “Has the tree sent out any more leaves since you posted the pictures? Are the leaves it has sent out looking healthy?â€

    Well yes, see the photo below where you seen new green leaves. They are definitely opening but there are only a few of them and the are being eaten by aphids. I have since sprayed them with aphid spray.

    The bad news is that some parts of the wood I scratched back that were green underneath about 3 weeks ago are now woody. Most of these branches, although looking alive at the ends are woody closer to the trunk. Some branches are still green below the bark. I hope I don’t lose them too.

    There is also a lot of mushrooms growing on that side of my garden. I don’t know if this is a bad sign. I believe that area is well drained as I have a number of other plants thriving in that area including some choice rhodos and clematis. Drainage has never been an issue.

    I have been to two garden centers with the branches. Harris’s and Van Dusen. They both gave me the same verdict on the branches that 1) They do not appear diseased but are definitely dead. 2) The whole tree is probably dead other than the trunk so I should chop off all of the branches and hope it comes up next year 3) those new leaves it’s got are its last final push to survive(trees tend to do a little final push before death), but those branches will also likely die 4) my only hope are the little red points of new branches trying to come out of the trunk(see the 3rd picture with the new little sprout of a branch, the tree has many of these). This is the tree trying to make new branches. At this point it needs the engery to do so.

    One told me to fertilize so I did, then at Van Dusen told me NOT to fertilize as it is in recovery mode. (too late). Harris’s nursery actually took one branch and said they would send it to an expert for examination. They took my phone number and told me they would call sometime this week.

    Van Dusen told me that the damage was likely caused by our early spring and high temperatures in January and then the subsequent frost in March likely killed it. She told me it was a very bad year in Vancouver for Japanese Maples, as she also lost many in her garden. Again her advise is to chop it way back and pray for those little red sprouts to perform in the Summer and keep the aphids away(apparently they pray on ailing trees). I don’t know if I have the heart to chop all the branches back to the trunk, but I will continue to cut back as I determine branches are dead. This was once such a magnificant tree!

    Too bad…this mild winter was fantastic for some canna lilies I overwintered, but terrible for the Maple apparently?

    I will post the diagnosis when I get a response for the garden center.
     

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  8. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    It seems strange that spring frost should cause that much damage to such large branches (unless it was a very severe frost). I think it more likely that some unknown event has caused major root damage over the winter and the damage is only now showing itself as the tree tries to leaf out, and finds it does not have enough stored energy to do so.

    In a best case scenario your maple will come back strongly from the buds sprouting from the trunk, but it needs a healthy root system to do so. Time will tell, good luck.
     
  9. boloxis

    boloxis Active Member

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    Hi, I'm from Burnaby and I just lost a Tamukeyama and an atroporpereum this spring. My Tamukeyama just became woody right after winter while my atroporeum's shoots kind of became longer around March but did not open then blackened and then all the bark became brown from maroon. My Chisio and Oshio Beni are both struggling right now too, very few leaves and then the young leafs have tip burns and some blackening twigs. But my other plants have a very good spring foliage much much better than last years. I have more than 50 cultivars and they are all subjected to the same conditions in my small back yard. I believe our BC weather has very little to do with this. I think its some kind of virus like Verticillium. I am just a newbie in Japanese maples and I switched plastic pots last year without washing them or cleaning my shovels, pruners, etc. I even mixed old soil from newly bought plants to one another and I remember all the plants that died on me this year came from soil of another big pot that died on me last Autumn from an Emperor 1. Did your Full Moon maple came into contact from a potential source of virus, like you added some topsoil, you pruned it last with something that you also used from another plant, or you planted a new plant near it (like your next door neighbor over the fence)?
     
  10. dmoulton

    dmoulton Member

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    hmmm interesting to hear to many japanese maple problems. Well it is sitting under a large evergreen for shade. This year in February we asked a landscaper to remove one of the ever greens branches and when he cut it, the branch fell from high above and ripped a branch off the side of the maple. It experienced a little trauma. (this landscaper also stepped on my hyancith bulbs)

    I wasn't pruning it so it could develop a wide umbrella look. I haven't planted anything on that side of the garden for over a year, and the last was clematis.

    My husband did dump old pond water from out water piece into that side of the garden. Maybe not such a good idea?

    No added topsoil, just fertilizer in the spring and summer. I have two little dogs so it does get unexpected nitrogen doses.

    There is no way of know if the neighbor on the other side of the fence did anything silly. I would certainly expect him too. Is there anyway to protect a garden from a neighbor when the fence is that close like a shield or underground tarp?

    Are you going to replace your maples or have you given up on them?
     
  11. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    The weather in the Northwest has been quite unusual for the past two years. This winter was warm early, followed by a dip to the single digits. I know one grower in Washington that lost 2000 JMs in the past 2 years to the weird weather - mostly early hard freezes like that. I ordered a large Red Dragon along with a bunch of conifers from a wonderful nursery in Oregon this spring (very high quality plants), and the Red Dragon never even budded out. In talking with the nursery about this problem they said they had huge losses of JMs, all displaying the same symptoms. They had to stop shipping trees until they broke bud so they could tell which ones were dead. These are 4 ft., 2 inch caliper trees being grown in the field, mind you - not in pots. So I don't think this is a mysterious disease. The warm/cold weather combined to produce an unusually stressful event that many trees simply could not recover from, for whatever reason. It happened all over the PNW.
     
  12. dmoulton

    dmoulton Member

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    The nursery go back to me and they suggested either verticillium wilt or soggy roots.

    This is the same feedback I have been getting from the forum. However though, the nursery did say that 'verticillium wilt' ususually doesn't affect 90% of the tree suddenly(like it did to mine). They said that verticillium, or other diseases are likely to be more gradual and at first you may notice only 20% dead. My tree went from beautifully budding-better-than-ever to a crummy little stick within about 2 weeks time.

    At this point I will go out and talk to my tree every day and hope for the best.
     
  13. dmoulton

    dmoulton Member

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    I have attached a branch cross section picture in case anyone can identify disease here? I see slight discoloration.
     

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  14. boloxis

    boloxis Active Member

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    I dug up my oshio beni that also have the same situation as yours, mine had sprouts that dried up and did not open. Had some few leaves open but smaller and look weak. The cross section of my branches doesn't seem to have severe discoloration but the bark seem to have turn brownish near the tips. When I pulled it off from the soil, I observed the root system, the bottom soil is soaking wet. The roots at the bottom have become mushy and some major root branch have become black, as in stark black from the other brown roots that is also connected to a black part of the root crown. The black bark of the major roots are easily peeling off. I forgot to take pics because I was in a hurry to put it back in the soil. Anyways I was desperate to save the tree, what I did was prune off all the discolored braches and left the main middle branch, hose the rootball, then I also pruned the soggy roots at the bottom and cut off all the black main branch roots. I placed it in a clean plastic pot with gravel in the bottom and brand new soil. Then I ran to the garden store and asked if what I did was right (Gardenworks Mandeville). The tree specialist there told me poor drainage or overwatering was what screwed up my Oshio Beni, I described what I observed on the root system to him. He said yes that was definitely waterlogged roots. He asked me if I have clayish soil, I said I used pure SeaSoil Potting mix, he said that brand of soil retains a lot of water and should be not often watered and I admit I did water it a lot daily, I thought it was drying up which is completely opposite. His explanation why it seems ok just after winter is because the root system grows really fast at Spring and this Spring maybe the first time when the fine feeding bottom roots reached the waterlogged bottom part of the soil. The roots can't avoid the waterlog so it would just get stuck there and get sick. He told me the survival of my tree will depend on the amount of OK roots left and how I treat it. Really hard (and expensive) being a new newbie... Will keep you posted if my tree survives.
     
  15. mapledia

    mapledia Active Member

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    Hi, don't know if this will be helpful because I live south of you in SE Oregon, but here our December temperatures dipped to 5˚F for several days, and this I think started our problems. I have 450 Japanese maples, and many suffered winter injury from this cold. Then January was the warmest on record for Oregon, and February was also warm, so the plants thought spring was on its way and began to leaf out. Naturally, March and April were cold, wet, snowy, and simply awful for newly-leafed out maples, and the conditions created the perfect setting for fungi. For the first time ever I've had to deal this spring with psuedomonas syringae, and I don't like that one bit. Again, I don't know if you experienced similar variations in the weather, but I've found copper anti-fungal sprays have kept my problems from spreading. Unfortunately, many leaves look pretty awful right now, but at least they aren't getting worse.

    Best of luck. Mapledia
     
  16. dmoulton

    dmoulton Member

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    Thank you all for your replies. Now 2 years later I thought I would follow up....

    I brought the dead twigs around to every garden expert in town. Some swore it was a soil borne disease. Other were certain it was the weather. All I found out was that getting true tests done was going to cost several hundred dollars and probably not worth it. I finally had a good long cry, gave up on this dead tree and tried to dig it up. It would not budge, I just couldn't grab a root ball, so for fear of throwing out my back, I just left it alone. Guess what? See the pictures below, it has revived beautifully. It is not "tree like" but I think it is a new and interesting shape and I am so happy I left it alone. A few lessons I have learned from this.

    1) every moment I spent wondering "why" was a moment wasted. I will never know what really happened.
    2) Every year my garden morphs into something new and interesting that I cannot plan or predict or fix.
    3) There are a lot of experts out there that give definate answers to things when they don't know what they are talking about.
    4) Never give up on plants and don't try to hard, just let them do what they need to do. You might just be pleasantly suprised

    Anyways, isn't this why we all love gardening, these little life lessons we get along the way. :)
     

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  17. kujo22

    kujo22 Member

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    Please let us know if you found success in your treatment. I have a Beni Maiko that mirrors the symptoms of most trees in this thread. It is in clay soil and am wondering if its worth digging up and risking adding stress to the tree in an attempt to save the root ball. if your tree is responding, I might take the chance.

    standing by....
     
  18. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Agree 100% except maybe on the first one, I always want to know "why" ;-))

    I believe your tree had problems (several I think) and tried hard to overcome them. You were lucky it was successful and will give you enjoyment for several more years. Other trees are not so lucky and perish, just like humans endure.

    Gomero
     
  19. mapledia

    mapledia Active Member

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    Like Gomero, I always want to know why a plant has died or why it isn't thriving. There are so many possibilities here. I am fortunate to have in my community a really excellent Plant Clinic which diagnoses diseases and other plant problems. But even with their help, every so often a plant just plain dies and there is no good reason for it. I've found things like bad grafts, nematodes and other insects in the root ball, etc., and sometimes I'm successful in rescuing the tree and sometimes not. Like Gomero said, some trees are just healthier than others and they will survive no matter what, and other will die off no matter what you do to care for them. By the way, your tree looks great. Good going!
     

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