Bark loss at the base of Collumner maple

Asked August 11, 2017, 7:54 PM EDT

Our 11 year old Collumner maple tree has sudden bark loss at the base of the tree, a split in the bark a little higher up the tree (in the opposite side) and dead limbs on the interior canopy although the larger outside canopy is intact. No leaf damage. We do have dried up leaves that have dropped in the front yard with a spider web, lace apperance that have been eaten before the leaves fell. Its impossible to tell who's tree those leaves have come from but they aren't the maple tree.

Black Hawk County Iowa

4 Responses

the damage to the tree is pretty severe and actually occured years ago. following damage it takes some time for the outer bark to loosen and decay to the point of falling off. it is clear from the first picture that new callous tissue has formed at the edge of the damage is starting to grow over the the damaged area. a lot like a scab on a wound that we might have. the difference is the tree will not Heal itself and the damage will be forever in the tree. my threshold of damage to the circumference of the tree is 25%. below that on an otherwise health tree , the tree should be ok. from 25-50% the tree will have canopy dieback and will need top work to clean out the tree. and it still may not survive or look so bad at the end that you choose to remove it. above 50% i would say to cut your losses and start over. from the images it appears you are over 25 % damage so I Would be hesitant to spend time and money on the tree if it were mine. in the long run I think you would be ahead if you replaced the tree. on thin barked maples i always wrap the bark from november thru april to reduce sun scald. what side is the base damaged on?
sorry for the long email feel free to call with questions

Hello Jessie, I spoke to the local ISU Extension office in Waterloo, Iowa. Norm Lemmon responded on Monday, "Basically, your tree looks quite healthy. There appears to be some dead branches in the understory. This is normal. Trim those dead branches out at their base. The bare patch on the trunk near the ground is old, as there appears to be several years of growth where the tree is making new woody growth around the edges. The long bare patch further up on the mail trunk appears to be more recent. I can't see any new growth starting around the edges. At any rate your tree looks healthy and shouldn't be in danger of falling. Take care of it, keep it trimmed and deeply water it occasionally".

Norm Lemmon

I have no clue who Norm Lemmon is but ok, good luck with that. let me know if anything changes with the tree.


Hi! It turns out that the tree is a Norway Maple & Norm Lemmon is the Master Gardner for the ISU Extension office here in Waterloo. Actually your responses were very similar! I will wrap the southeast side of the tree (actually the entire area that is missing bark) from November to April or do I need to wrap the entire trunk & with what do I wrap it with? I also have a Crimson Maple, no damage but does the trunk need to be wrapped too? We did have the trunk wrapped with flexible white tile until the trunks outgrew them as Jack Meyers from Meyers Nursery instructed us too. This was year round to keep the maple inside the trunk cooler.
Thank you for taking the time to look at my pictures and responding to my question!