What’s Wrong with My Maple Tree and Its Leaves?

What’s Wrong with My Maple Tree and Its Leaves?

Maple trees are one of the top ten most popular trees in the USA. That’s easy to believe when you see their mesmerizing fall color and perfect-as-can-be leaves.

But what happens when those leaves begin to look less than perfect?

Tom, a Davey Tree blog reader, noticed his maple was struggling and reached out to us for help. Tom asked, “My wife and I have a 30-year-old maple tree in our backyard that has been showing signs of stress. The leaves are small, and some of the maple tree branches are dying. Do you have any recommendations, or is it too late?”

Let’s dive into what may be causing these signs of maple tree stress and dieback.

Maple Tree Branches Dying. Small Leaves. Early Fall Color. Is My Maple Tree Dying?

If you spot the above symptoms on your tree, maple decline could be plaguing your tree. Also, look for leaves that are too light in color or look burnt. If there are fewer leaves than normal, that’s another telltale sign.

What exactly is maple decline?

Unlike many of the problems your tree faces, maple decline is not a tree disease or a tree pest.

Instead, maple decline is a result of trees living in an urban environment instead of a forest. Let’s break that down.

In forests, trees have loads of rich, natural resources that they need to survive and thrive. But when growing in your yard, trees often lack necessities, like food and water, so they struggle. Check out the top five problems trees encounter in our yard.

Unless you provide your tree with the essentials, trees enter a cycle of decline. When that happens, they continue to suffer, and without intervention, trees likely won’t recover.

How can I help my maple tree recover from stress?

Develop a plant health care plan for your tree. This ensures your tree has enough water, nutrients and sunlight to survive. Plus, a tree expert regularly looks for signs of problems like these earlier. Often, these are subtle changes that only a trained expert can spot. When you invest in proactive care, trees encounter fewer problems and often decline altogether.

For example, when Tom shared pictures of his unhealthy maple, we saw girdling roots. Those make it hard for the tree to intake water and nutrients properly. As you would guess, that was a big part of why his maple was in decline.

Once you know what’s plaguing your tree, you know what to do next. 

Click to see if you can save your maple tree with maple dieback treatment.

  • The Tree Doctor June 4, 2018 >Hi Dottie, From your description, I am guessing that your maple has one of the various leaf galls forming on the leaves. Search for images of “maple leaf galls” on the internet to see if any of the photos match what you are seeing. Leaf galls are considered an aesthetic issue because they typically cause little or no actual harm to the tree. I will send you one to get you started. Hopefully, this helps! Here if you have any more questions, Dottie.
  • Dottie Rice June 4, 2018 >My little maple tree leaves have what looks like eggs on them.The tree seems to be growing okay.I can't detect any other problems.Thanks for your assistance.
  • The Tree Doctor May 21, 2018 >Hi Jackie, I recommend that you have a certified arborist come out and inspect the tree in person. They will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan. I can forward your issue to your local Davey office if you’d like. You can also reach out to them directly at (916) 520-0764 or fill out a consultation request form here: http://www.davey.com/local-offices/sacramento-roseville-tree-service/. Here if you have any more questions, Jackie.
  • Jackie Shelley May 19, 2018 >3 years ago, I purchased a Kasagiyuma maple tree. A green thumb friend took care of it and watered it daily. I took baby maple back when I noticed the leaves were diseased with a light tan rust and the bark has a dark growth. My tree is about 7 inches high and with 4 leaves. I am watering less, but the disease on leaves is spreading. What can I do to save my tree.
  • The Tree Doctor July 31, 2017 >Hi Bill - Thanks for reaching out! We would be happy to come to your property to take a look. I've passed along your request to your local office, so they should be reaching out soon to set up a free consultation. Or if you'd prefer, you can contact them at 302-654-0224 or davey.com/local-offices/wilmington-tree-service/#main-form. Either way, talk more about how to help your trees soon, Bill.
  • Bill Neff July 29, 2017 >Would like and estimate for tree and yard work. Alapocas resident. Have several tree pruning needs and seek a recommendation for an appropriate shrub/tree planting in side yard. Also interested in mulch around trees and shrubs.
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