Red maple leaves drying up and falling off

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Krista2882, Jun 29, 2014.

  1. Krista2882

    Krista2882 Active Member

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    What's happening to my tree? My red maple is losing leaves at an alarming rate. I hadn't been able to mow my lawn in two weeks and I just had to rake up leaves just to be able to mow. I raked up three huge piles of leaves. The leaves are shriveling up and drying out while still on the tree and then falling off. It doesn't appear to have any bugs or fungus. The trunk looks normal- no holes or anything- and the leaves don't have any spots on them. The ground around the tree looks normal, too. What's wrong with it? :(
     
  2. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    Can you provide pictures? That would go a long way to helping diagnose what the problem might be. A shot of the full tree, including showing where/how it's planted, and a close up of some of the affected leaves.

    A few more details would help, too. How old is the tree? When was it planted? How did you plant it? How/often do you water? Do you know what type of maple it is?
     
  3. Krista2882

    Krista2882 Active Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I think the tree is about 20-25 years old. I've lived in my house for a year and a half, but I have some schematics of my yard that were drawn up in 1996 and it said that the tree was 8 feet tall at the time. I don't know how long it takes a tree to grow that tall. I call it a red maple because in the spring the leaves are really red and then they get more of a green hue to them for the rest of the summer and then turn red again in the fall. I am posting two pictures I took yesterday. One of them is of the full tree and the other is showing the three huge piles of leaves I raked up.
    I'm going to have to put the pics in two separate posts because I'm on my iPhone.
    The leaves are curled up and dry. I can take a closeup of them later and post that, too
     

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  4. Krista2882

    Krista2882 Active Member

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    here's the pic of the trunk and the piles of leaves. Sorry, the iphone always turns pics sideways...
    Oh, and I never water my established trees... I didn't know people did.
     

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  5. Krista2882

    Krista2882 Active Member

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    the living leaves
     

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  6. Krista2882

    Krista2882 Active Member

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    dead leaves fall off the tree like this.
     

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  7. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    Sorry Krista, but I'm a bit stumped. Do you know if it is a Japanese maple, or if not, what type of maple it is? I'm not great at identification unlike some other people on here. 20-25 years old is not young, but it's not terribly old either... And typically, you don't need to water established trees like that unless you have extended periods of no rainfall and/or very high temps. Have you had typical rainfall this spring/summer?

    Speaking of temps, though, I'm guessing your winter was pretty brutal too? What sort of temps did you have and for how long? Winds/windchill? Part of me is wondering if the tree was damaged during the winter cold, and while it had enough strength/energy to leaf out, that energy is now sapped and it cannot keep up anymore. I'm not saying this is the problem, but it certainly could be if all other possible causes - disease/infection/infestation/water issues/etc - are ruled out. This winter has taken a huge toll on plants, even larger established trees like yours.

    Hopefully others who know more than I will chime in.
     
  8. Onra

    Onra Member

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    For sure it is a cultivar of Acer palmatum atropurpureum, but can't say more...
     
  9. Krista2882

    Krista2882 Active Member

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    maplesandpaws-
    This winter wasn't much different than other recent winters as far as temperatures, winds, and snowfall goes (Usually temps in the 20s and 30s, a few days in a row here and there of temps in the teens, and then we always get some days (sometimes many days in a row, and additionally a few here and there throughout the winter in the single digits and a couple degrees below zero). But it was a very long winter. The cold weather lingered on much longer than it should have, and spring was very late this year. All of the trees and flowers were delayed two or three weeks. Daffodils on my yard that usually come up in March didn't come out until April and some more cold weather stunted them and I only got two flowers on the daffodil plants. So I don't know if maybe that was a problem for this tree.
    The leaves didn't start falling like this, though, until about 5 weeks ago- so, the middle of May, which was only a few weeks after all the leaves completely came out on the trees.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
  10. emery

    emery Renowned Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    What a shame that such a nice and established Japanese Maple is in danger. I really hope for your sake it will pull through.

    Are there any signs of bark problems, like lifting up, discoloring, or other mechanical damage near the base? Are there any signs of mushrooms or whitish streaks from mycelium if you dig a bit into the soil around it?

    It still has leaves though, I gather? Are these continuing to curl up and die? Are there new buds forming anywhere on the trunk or branches?
     
  11. Krista2882

    Krista2882 Active Member

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    Thanks, everyone,
    emery- I took a closer look at the trunk and it's pretty much covered with lichens, and has some moss on it, too.
    The bark has some lines in it. I'm attaching a picture of one of the large branches.
    The ground at the bottom looks normal.
    There os still a good amount of leaves on it- it's a big tree- but it is getting noticable that so many leaves have dropped. The leaves are continuing to dry out and fall off. I also saw some leaves on the ground that weren't dry. But when I look up at the tree I see some a bunch of dried and curled leaves about to fall. It's happening from the tree outward.
    I just thought of something- I'm having a problem with moles this year and their tunnels have damaged some of my grass. Could they be damaging my tree, too?
     

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  12. emery

    emery Renowned Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Moles can damage a young poorly established tree by exposing roots. Practically impossible for them to damage a tree of this size.

    The bark in the pic looks fine, although I was interested at the bark near the ground. and also on the twigs that are losing leaves. Do you see any blackening, or dark streaking, on these latter? You could bring a sample of these twigs to a local extension office and ask them to test for pathogens.

    It's possible that during your "polar vortex" incident, the ground froze harder than you thought and the tree lost some root mass. In that case the leaf drop would be normal because there's not enough root to support that much crown this year. In this scenario, the tree won't lose all its leaves and would recover during next and subsequent years.
     
  13. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    To me it looks like there is damage at the bottom of the trunk.
     

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  14. Onra

    Onra Member

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    It looks like moss...
     
  15. emery

    emery Renowned Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    There is certainly moss and some lichen, I couldn't see from any pictures whether there is other damage. But my eyes aren't that great... ;)
     
  16. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    There is some lichens, especially higher up. It looks like there are cavities at the bottom, though, but it is not possible to say with certainty from the picture. Krista, for sure, will know what it is.
     
  17. Krista2882

    Krista2882 Active Member

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    Yeah, it's moss. No damage.
     
  18. Krista2882

    Krista2882 Active Member

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    It seems that the leaves have almost finished dropping, and there are still the majority of leaves left on the tree, so I'm pretty happy. :D
    Thanks for the help, everyone. It sounds like it may be what others suggested- some root damage this winter from the extended cold weather.
     

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