Acer tree dying?!

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Claire Goulding, Apr 1, 2021.

  1. Claire Goulding

    Claire Goulding New Member

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    Warwickshire uk
    Hi there!
    I'm so glad to have found this forum. I have what was a beautiful Acer tree, I think it was the snake bark?! 13 years old. Always problems.. until last had hardly any leaves.. this year I can't see any buds.well,maybe 1 or 2 but they are at the very tip top of a branch.its in a shady part of my garden.its opposite a cherry tree which is just starting to blossom.we did have a drought 2 years ago.but other acers in the garden have been fine.please help!

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  2. AlainK

    AlainK Generous Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society 10 Years

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    nr Orléans, France (E.U.)
    Wait for other replies, but to me it looks like it's dying if not already dead. Sorry.
  3. Acerholic

    Acerholic Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Hampshire England Zone 8b UK
    @Claire Goulding good morning Claire and welcome to the maples forum. First of all have you done the scratch test? This is using your finger nail scratching away a little of the bark to see if it is green underneath. If it is there is still a chance, if it is brown then I have to concur with Alain that it is probably dead or dying.
    As you said last year it had little or no leaves, this was obviously the sign of demise. Also if a tree has no leaves, then sugars are not carried to the roots to give it strength to get through the Winter months. Then in Spring you see no budding at at all and so death of the tree.

    Sometimes trees just die and often for no apparent reason, ie diseases etc. But if you decide after confirming that it is indeed deceased to plant another tree in it's place, I would consider not planting a maple in it's place, just in case you have verticulum in the soil. I would always like to say plant a maple as this is my passion, but sometimes it is not advisable.
    If I could advise a tree that is similar in leaf shape and a fantastic Autumn colour that rivals any acer, then do consider Liquidambar styraciflua 'Slender silhouette '. A wonderful narrow tree, if space is at a premium. Also no problems with verticulum.
    Sorry I don't have better news for you, but do try the scratch test and get back to us.

  4. emery

    emery Renowned Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Normandie, France
    Hi Claire,

    Yes it is a snakebark maple, possibly Acer capillipes. These maples as a group are very vulnerable to water and sun stress, it looks as though it may be very exposed. The snakebarks belong to a section of Acer called Macrantha: in general these soft wood maples are short lived, respond poorly to stress, and don't back-bud easily. For this latter reason, the type of pruning that has been performed is really to be avoided.

    In the second picture, there is a large lesion at the base of the tree; anything within this darker region is certainly dead. However, the greener bark still makes more than half of the circumference, which is a good sign. That being said, within the snakebarks, once circulation issues start the tree can very quickly dry out and stop making buds. Even when a scratch test reveals green cambium, the tree may have given up. Last year we experienced (yet another) summer drought here, and lost 4 Macrantha, with another A. davidii (one of the group) that looks like it will not leaf out this year. Sadly this seems to be part of growing this type of maple.

    I don't think verticillium is an issue here, but I certainly agree that L. 'Slender Silhouette' as a marvelous plant that looks very appropriate for the spot, should you need to replace the maple.

    You will just need to 'wait and see' whether it wakes up.


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