maple tree losing bark

Asked August 15, 2017, 3:51 PM EDT

We live in Becker, we just moved in back in March. In the front yard, I do believe it is a silver leaf maple. One side of the leaves are green and other is a grayish color. The house was built in 2003, so assume that is when the tree was planted. On the south, southwest side, down close to the base it has lost its bark and has a slight crack in the trunk. Also many of the leaves have black spots, over all the tree looks very healthy. Any ideas as to the problem or what if anything we need to do

Sherburne County Minnesota

3 Responses

A photograph would be helpful to see the nature of the bark damage. Missing bark down near the ground could be a sign of lawn mower damage, or critter damage - deer or rabbits. A vertical split could be a sign of sunscald. Check here:

You need to determine the cause of the damage before you can deal with it. Obviously, keep lawn equipment away from the tree. You may have to protect the tree from rabbits in winter.

The black spots on the leaves could be tar spots. Read here:
Tar spot is not a serious problem for your tree.

Here is our tree in question. I hope that my pictures are of help to you. I took several different snapshots of the trunk and leaves. It is in the front yard which faces southwest. We are just hoping these black spots are tar, as the road was tarred earlier this summer. Too, we are hoping that the trunk is just the nature of the tree. We just moved in earlier this spring and we are hoping that you can help us figure out what is wrong and if there is anything that we can do to preserve the health of our tree. We thank you so very much! Don and Ann Huber

The black spots are tar spots, as I suggested. This has nothing to do with the road tar. It is not a serious problem. It is very common on maple trees.

The crack is a sunscald crack, also as I suggested. I consider it more of a problem, since it is so severe. Maples are prone to get them, but this one looks especially deep. I'd suggest you have a certified arborist look at this tree:

Another issue is that silver maples tend to have poor architecture. I can't see the entire tree from the photos you sent, but an arborist could also evaluate the tree. Silver maples have to be competently pruned on a regular schedule, to prevent them from acquiring some of their more common defects such as multiple leaders and included bark. Read here: