Leaf Tips of Trident Maple Changing Color, Turning Red

Discussion in 'Maples' started by rkjones, Aug 3, 2006.

  1. rkjones

    rkjones Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Manchester
    Hi,

    I've got a problem this year with a trident maple bonsai I created a number of years ago . . . it's just not looking as healthy as it typically does.

    There are three symptoms:
    1. The tips of some of the leaves are turning a crispy brown. (leftmost leaf in photo below)
    2. Some leaves are turning prematurely red like their typical fall color. (center leaf in photo below)
    3. Some leaves have a reddish hue around the edge. (rightmost leaf in the photo below.)

    Tree Problems 002.jpg

    I'm assuming that the problem is due to an issue with water pressure inside the plant. The weather here in NH was exceptionally wet this spring, so I'm guessing that the tree is suffering from overwatering. I'm assuming that the overwatering has caused root rot, and that the reduced root capacity is now incapable of providing the leaves with enough water.

    Can anyone take a look at the photo and either confirm or disprove my hunch?

    I have moved recently -- about twenty miles -- so this is the tree's first year in a new location. That could also be a factor in my tree looking less than its usual gorgeous self.
     
  2. Laurie

    Laurie Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    428
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    That was a great analysis, but a worst-case scenario. Here are a couple of articles to read on premature fall color in maples: http://www.mortonarboretumphc.org/feature%20articles/Plant%20Physiology/When%20Trees%20Drop%20Their%20Leaves%20or%20Develop%20Early%20Fall%20Color%20%20August%202002.pdf.
    http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fid/august97/08259704.html. The good news, based on your description and the photograph, is that what you do not have at this point is leaf scorch, but rather likely leaf-tip burn from drought stress after a spring or early summer of heavy rains, as well as some early fall color. You did not mention any discoloration or twig dieback, which is great. Let us know if you think that this matches the symptoms, and don't hesitate to add a photograph of the whole tree.
     
  3. rkjones

    rkjones Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Manchester
    Hi Laurie,

    Thanks so much for your quick reply!

    The tree is certainly suffering from some kind of stress. There's no obvious sign of insect infestation -- at least none that I could see. Given that we had an extremely wet spring -- so much so that certain areas of NH flooded and were declared a national disaster area -- it strikes me that the amount of moisture is the most obvious place to look for the problem. That's what led me to suspect a mild case of root rot.

    The idea of a lack of oxygen to the roots mentioned in the second article you posted might make sense. Obviously, given that this is a containerized tree, the roots have no place to grow and will get increasingly dense over time. We would typically root prune a trident maple like this every three years or so, but I was busy settling into my new home this past spring. I've got some roots reaching out the bottom drain holes, so it's obviously time. Excessive moisture would, I think, exacerbate the situation.

    Another possibility, I suppose, is fungus gnats. (I think that's what these irritating things flying around my head are . . . no bites, just annoying.) I understand that they sometimes eat fine roots along the soil's surface. However, I think it's unlikely that any fungus gnat infestation could create an observable stress in a tree like this, and is more likely an indication of the large amount of moisture.

    I've included a couple of additional photos. It's raining here, and, seeing as how I'm not a professional photographer, I've got none of those "umbrella-lights" to correct the low-light situation. ;-) The first picture is a photo of the entire tree. You can see an area of light foliage slightly up and to the right from the center of the tree caused by the stress. The branches in this area are still very much alive, and there's new growth there.

    Tree Problems 2 004.jpg

    The second photo shows a close-up of the leaves on the branches. I've taken a third picture of the leaves with the flash on, just in case it's easier to see the leaves.

    Tree Problems 2 007.jpg Tree Problems 2 008.jpg

    I had originally suspected the issue was a case of simple sunburn, so the tree is now located inside my greenhouse. The greenhouse is covered with a shade cloth, so it offers some protection from the sun.

    Kyle
     

Share This Page