40 year old Japanese Maple Tree died...Help, Please.

Asked September 6, 2016, 6:50 PM EDT

Hello... We had a beautiful 40 year old Japanese Maple tree that seemingly died suddenly over the course of what we believe to be 2 years. It started with half of the tree dying. (no leaves) We couldn't bare to cut that portion of the tree off, so we just waited for Spring hoping that it would recover. This year the other half died. It never leafed out. I have read as much as I can online, but, I'm mostly left confused and without any real resolution. We had to cut it down today. We dug down as far as we could and the big 2"-3" diameter roots had all died and were rotten. We cut those roots and tried to pull the stump out but could not, without likely damaging the rock raised bed that it resides (resided) in. I have read about verticillium wilt, and, although the tree seemed to die in a way which is visually consistant with verticillium wilt, the cross section of the tree did not appear to have the dark ring indicative to verticillium wilt. The tree was nearly 12 tall and again that wide. It was the focal point of the entry of the house. It was located on the North side of the house, and, didn't get much sun. We didn't really do anything with it, i.e., water, fertilizer, compost. It always thrived on it's own. We have purchased another Japanese Maple which is currently still at the nursery. We plan to plant it in the same location when we are consistently getting more rain. We live approximately 2 miles (as the crow flies) from the ocean in a secluded forested and marsh setting. I am attaching a couple of pictures of the cross section of the tree trunk, and the site where the tree was planted. We are also wondering, if the first tree had verticillium wilt, if we should actually plant another tree inn the same location.

Lincoln County Oregon

4 Responses

That is very sad indeed.

By chance did you save any portion of the tree-stems, roots, trunk ...
Having these may be helpful for closer examination and further diagnosis.

I would definitely wait to replant another specimen in the same location. If it is a soil borne disease it can likely be transmitted.

We will try to research as best we can.

You may contact me directly.

Liz Olsen
OSU Lincoln County Extension
MG Program Coordinator

Maples are subject to a variety of diseases in varying degrees of severity. Given what appears to be the sudden death of your 40 year old specimen and not having any specimens to examine more closely I would recommend potentially having a soil test done for soil borne diseases A & L Western Agricultural Laboratories 503-968-9225 Portland. Call beforehand to explain the situation and they can let you know if they do that kind of testing and how to take a good soil sample.
The other recommendation would be to have an Arborist take a look at what remains you may have though it may be too late for them to evaluate.

If anything else comes to mind as to symptoms and any other photos as the disease progressed would be helpful.

Thank you so much for the thoughtful and helpful response(s). Yes, we did save a portion of the trunk. We can also retrieve some of the branches from the yard debris pile if need be.

I'm going to call the Western Agriculture Laboratories and ask them about doing a soil test. I do really want to know, if I can, what killed this magnificent tree.

What would I do with the sample of the trunk? Is that what I would send to an arborist? Not that I expect you to do all the leg work for me,...but, can you recommend a reputable arborist?

Thank you again, What an amazing service the Oregon State University Extension office is!! I feel so lucky that we have access to such professionals!


I am offsite today
Yes I would save anything you can and any photos
I typically can't recommend a specific
The only arborist I am familiar with is Buena Vista Ask for Vern
You may also want to touch base with the nursery
Hope this helps