Please Save Our Crimson King Norway Maple

Asked August 24, 2015, 2:22 PM EDT

We have two 25 year-old Crimson Kings, 60 ft. apart and 30 ft. from the street. Both leafed-out normally this Spring, and one still seems normal. The other, however, has lost its leaves at top center, and now leaves on branches on south side of tree are withering and turning brown. (Please see photos attached). I can find no bore-holes or sap running on trunk or branches. Other than the withering, the only thing I see on leaves is minor damage from Japanese beetles, which happens every year. I will very much appreciate any help you can give, especially as to how we can save this tree.

Howard County Maryland

3 Responses

Norway maples are somewhat notorious for having problems around the age of yours. They often have girdling roots, which encircle and smother it. Pull back the mulch around the base (the flare of a tree should always be exposed anyway) and look for roots overlapping others or not radiating out from the tree. Often the trunk above a girdling root will be flat as it rises from the base instead of gradually sloping up from the major roots. Here is info about it from our website:

You're right about the Japanese beetles--they are insignificant in this instance. But here are some other causes of tree decline that need to be considered:

If you cannot identify the problem, you may want to have an arborist from a tree service company look at it. These is no charge for diagnosis, only work done. You can even get more than one opinion. We recommend only arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. To find one near you can use this website:
After you get opinions, you are welcome to contact us.


Thanks for your prompt response. After reading it and the links you provided, I still see no clear cause for the problem. I have contacted Bartlett, and they will (saying they are quite busy this time of year) send their arborist here 9/4/2015 to take a look. We can only hope that will be soon enough to save the tree.

Sometimes it is extremely difficult to determine the cause of a tree's death. It could have been planted too deeply or could have gotten some kind of root damage. Sometimes it takes years for a tree to die. Having to wait a week or two is not going to make much difference for this tree. The dead material needs to be cut out. vw