bark damage to Acer trunks and branches

Discussion in 'Maples' started by sibby23, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. sibby23

    sibby23 New Member Maple Society

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    Hi
    I am a new user of the forum and have a problem:
    I wonder, if anyone can help me, please?
    In the last week many of my 50 Acer palmatums and cultivars have had their bark damaged or stripped off; damage is done on both ground level and also up to 1.2m on the side branches. What is going on? This has never happened before and I have slowly been planting Japanese Acers for 10 years. We have a mature wood on one side (1m rabbit fence as boundery has been installed) and there are rabbits, squirrels and deer around.
    How can I save my already damaged trees now and what do I do?
    And what can I do to prevent all of these 3 rodents to damage my Japanese Maples in the future, please?
    I really appreciate some advice on this.
    thanks
    Sibby
     
  2. 0soyoung

    0soyoung Member

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    First, if you cover the wounds within 24 hours they will 'heal' much faster. Plastic wrap, visqueen, even wood glue will do the job - it only needs to stay in place for a couple of weeks. After that, there is little to do but leave the wounds be - new bark will grow and recover the area, though it will likely be something like 5 years or more to become unnoticeable. Covering within 24 hours can shorten this time by years.

    The damage sounds like it was made by a raccoon, but you are in the UK, to which raccoons are not indigenous. Likely it was done by a similar arboreal animal while trying to climb your trees. Deer wander freely around my town and even overnight in my yard - they only eat leaves and do not gnaw at the rest of the tree. Regardless, making a barrier around the tree with 'chicken wire' and a tall stake or two is an effective preventive solution that is widely used in my neighborhood.
     
  3. Sulev

    Sulev Member

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    The best way for deterring tree eating mammals is hunting them.
     
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  4. Acerholic

    Acerholic Member Maple Society

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    Bark stripping damage to trees by grey squirrels - Forest Research
    Hi Sibby, take a look at the above link. Grey squirrels cause a massive amount of damage to trees, especially if they have increased in population in your area. Look at the photos to see if it's similar. You say you have woods closely located to you, so as the damage is low and higher up on your maples I would suggest they are the problem. Chicken wire around the trunks is possibly your only option. Some parts of the uk trap Grey squirrels and humanely dispose of them. Your local council can advise you on removal as they are NOT an indgenious species to the uk. As far as wound healing, Bayer do a wound covering paste that is used for grafting, this might help the healing process. In Hampshire last year we had a problem with rats chewing the bark of maples, but fortunately we were able to trap and reduce the problem.
    As you are in Kent it might be worth a visit to hever castle, they have many specimen maples and have grey squirrels everywhere, one of the gardeners there maybe able to advise you. Good luck.
     
  5. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

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    This would be squirrel damage. They use their claws and shred the bark. Sometimes they bite and pull the bark down. I have seen it many times and have personal experience. Cyan pepper helps deter them. Powder at the base and mixed with water and sprayed. (Don't use a leaf blower around areas of powder, I've seen it happen and it's not good) Someone shot much of the over populated squirrels. I think it's a learned behavior because the re-populated squirrels don't do it anymore. It was a huge problem in our neighborhood for about 10 years. They even would damage the tree lawn maples in our neighborhood.

    Rabbits usually leave things alone this time of year, they do more winter damage. Sometimes young rabbits will eat low delicate branches this time of year. But they tend to like dwarf cultivars with low thin branches.

    Deer can damage bark but it's further up. Male deer will run their antlers on the bark causing a lot of damage. This damage is typically about head height for the deer.

    In our area racoons typically leave all our trees alone, unless a bird feeder is in the tree. They climb the tree like a pole and cause scratches on smooth bark like our paper bark maple but have never pealed the bark away in mass like squirrels. The older Acer palmatum they climb without doing any damage because they get traction. Occasionally they break a branch. They typically leave everything alone and only climb for bird food when food is scarce.

    We had luck repairing damaged trees where one side still has bark in tact. We used a very sharp knife to clean up the edge of the remaining bark with a very thin and sharp knife like exacto knife or razor blade. We used waterproof glue (Titebond 3, green label) to hold the bark edge down and prevent moisture loss and the cambium layer from drying out. Then we wrapped the trunk with Dewitt tree wrap. It's white and is a breathable cloth based wrap. We have done the same techniques with branches with great success. It usually takes a month for wound wood to form and start to close the damaged area.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  6. ROEBUK

    ROEBUK Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Think that what you will find the culprits are is Roe deer specifically the Bucks , you are just coming up to the rutting season end of July dependent on the weather , what you have described is classic "scraping" and "thrashing" this is the bucks marking out there territory by scraping their antlers up and down the sides of the tree and releasing scent from the base of the coronets (Antler bases) to tell other bucks to back off this is my patch of ground, and to attract the does for mating. They can really descimate trees over a period of time. believe you me have seen it first hand hundreds of times.

    This is what i always used to look for when "stalking" deer they will do this most of the year , now more prolific due to the time of year, it's a tell tale sign that they are in the area look on the ground around your trees for deer "slots" hoof prints Kent right through to Wiltshire are all prime Roe deer county's Hampshire being the best.

    Best way to stop them is to shoot them but this will not be possible for you unless you know someone in the area who does all the local deer culling for the various estates (who owns the wood) try and find out who does all the agricultual protection in your surrounding areas as well have a chat with the farmers , a 1 metre fence is nothing for a deer you will be amazed how high they can jump don't think this was erected for the rabbits they will just burrow underneath the fence. Failing this the best method which has already been stated are three poles with chicken mesh (cheapest option) attached around the trees which are been "thrashed" will give you some protection. Living next to a large wood = problems from various forms of vermin.
     
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I've seen a group of Roe Deer walk up to a 2 metre "deer fence", stop, and do a standing jump (no run-up!) clear over the top with ~20 cm to spare. Looked like they were used to doing it every day.
     
  8. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

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    If a picture is uploaded I can identify the cause of damage.

    Quick treatment of the damage is most important regardless of what animal is responsible. In addition to the treatments myself and @0soyoung has recommended, heavy duty tin foil can be used with glue. Use the dull side against the wound area with glue. Using the dull side makes it easier to remove. It's not the best looking option, but it's always readily available.
     
  9. sibby23

    sibby23 New Member Maple Society

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    Thank you very much everyone for your posts and practical advice - much appreciated.
    I'll get to work on protecting the damaged trunks and branches straight away and then we'll have to put up some more permanent protection for the future.
    I agree that it looks like grey squirrel damage - maybe additionally deer? We spotted 5 deer a couple of weeks ago near the wood edge in the garden. (Don't they look sweet?!)
     
  10. ROEBUK

    ROEBUK Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Look even sweeter in the oven , throw some big fat squirrel legs in as well :) :) they do taste quite nice !!
     
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  11. sibby23

    sibby23 New Member Maple Society

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    Thought i’ll send pics of some of the damaged acers. Ironically this damage occurred straight after I removed the plastic spiral tree guards - within a few days! I’ve treated some with arbrex heal and seal and more arbrex is on order.
    All the acers have been thoroughly watered, as we’ve not had rain For 2 weeks. I reapplied the plastic guards and hope this will also deter the squirrels.
    I couldn't find the De Witt bandage stuff to order in the UK.
    I’ve now bought 2 squirrel traps: no squirrels yet, but I released 2 hedgehogs from them this morning.
    I am always grateful for any advice or thoughts.
     

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  12. Acerholic

    Acerholic Member Maple Society

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    Hi Sibby, can I just let you know that if you catch grey squirrels it is illegal to release them. Looking at your photos I think roebuck might well be right re deer damage as well as the squirrels. I don't know what your Munkjack deer population is where you live, but looking at your damage and the Munkjack size, you could be looking at them as a problem. They are non native so can be culled by a professional at any time of year. (Rifle). BASC is the organisation to contact. You can find their website online, they will have members local to you. The plastic spiral tree guards is the way to go for the foreseeable future if it is a deer problem.
     
  13. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

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    The strips of bark on the ground is exactly what squirrels leave behind.

    In photo 1 the stub needs cut back. (note it's probably not animal damage) It is preventing proper healing. Then water gets behind the bark and rots the bark from the inside out. The rot works it's way down to the base.

    I recommend a flush cut at the branch collar in the future. The pruner must be held so that the anvil is on the part being removed. The blade then makes a clean and damage free cut. Any damages caused by the anvil is done to the part of the branch being removed and not the branch collar.

    Note, some like to prune farther from the branch collar, then wait for the stub to die back to the collar and remove it at a later time, this puts the branch collar in jeopardy of failure and increases the chances of rot. Picture one is a prime reason I discourage this method in Japanese maples. Hire an arborist and some leave this stub because they are used to pruning large fast healing trees, but they cause a lot of damage in Japanese maples by using this technique.

    The older the tree the more damage is done when leaving a stub.

    Anyway, not trying to come down on anyone, just trying to help.

    #3 and 5 looks more like deer damage. Deer can also damage lower mounding trees by standing over and locking their antlers down into the branches and branch unions.

    Chipmunk can cause damage similar to squirrels. In trees with dense canopy they might be responsible.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019 at 9:26 AM

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