Maple tree appears to be dying, suddenly/

Asked September 30, 2014, 3:02 PM EDT

Half of tree is normal, half has had all leaves turn brown.

Tree gets plenty of sun and water.

Baltimore Maryland

1 Response

Your tree certainly seems stressed. The dieback on one side suggests a root problem. Has there been any digging, construction or compaction from vehicle traffic on that side of the tree? Any damage to the bark or roots?

Here are some other possible problems with site or environmental stress which can cause branch dieback:

StressSite Problems Picture

Stress/Site Problems

Stress and site problems can be caused by a number of factors including environmental stress, insect damage, and disease. Environmental stresses can be caused by severe drought, poor soil aeration, reduced root growth, nutrient deficiencies, extreme temperature fluctuations, defoliation, winter damage, storm damage, chemical injury (de-icing salts), mechanical damage, and lack of establishment due to poor site selection or transplanting practices (too deep), (poor techniques). One or more of these conditions may cause visible symptoms, or stress may have a more subtle effect such as weakened defenses against insects or disease organisms. Plants may be predisposed to attack by pathogens or insects when they suffer stress just after planting, after storm damage or when they begin to decline in vigor.

Poor site conditions include a number of factors that relate to a plant’s health. Site conditions that need to be considered at planting include soil texture, nutrient availability and pH, proper soil drainage (poor drainage), and soil moisture retention. Proximity to sidewalks, roads and buildings, exposure to temperature extremes, light exposure, wind, and air pollutants can cause significant stress on plants. Other factors that contribute to poor site conditions include construction damage, grade changes, soil compaction, and allelopathy such as proximity to black walnut trees. Select plant material adapted to the specific climactic zone or adapted to specific sites such as seashore, urban, or woodland areas. Proper site preparation and selection of high quality plant material will help plants adapt to a difficult site. After site conditions are considered other factors such as maintenance after planting, mulching techniques, proper irrigation techniques, and weed control become important for sustained plant health.

Attempts to remove the stress or diagnose the cause of the site problem may alleviate the symptoms and allow the plant to recover.

Keywords: stress, site problem, poor site, environmental problem, environmental

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Photo Gallery

Picture of Severely drought stressed tree

Severely drought stressed tree.

Picture of Poor planting technique burlap not removed and root ball exposed

Poor planting technique: burlap not removed and root ball exposed.

Picture of Poor site conditons and poor care

Poor site conditons and poor care.

Picture of Severed roots due to excavation by heavy equipment

Severed roots due to excavation by heavy equipment.