Red Maple dead branches

Asked October 11, 2017, 11:17 AM EDT

My mom's red Maple in North St Paul has some dead branches, some of which have broken and fallen off. Several branches appear to have no bark on them. One of the fallen branches looks shredded on the surface. I thought at first it was something growing on the surface, but it's woody. Is the tree sick? I'm attempting to send pictures. Thanks. Deb

Ramsey County Minnesota

1 Response

There are lots of reasons why branches break off such as disease, hail, squirrels etc. There are lots of reasons for cracks, such as sun cracks, poor branch attachment/included bark, mechanical injury. The crack on the trunk appears to be healing. Trees can compartmentalize injuries and heal over time. There is also a phenomena called "wetwood" where bacteria create an oozing material that discolors trees. It is not harmful. In addition in late winter as other food sources are gone, squirrels will sometimes strip the bark of trees, and red maples are favorites (maple sap is sweet). The squirrels use the bark as lining for their nests, and probably eat the exposed cambium. Severely affected branches (over 50% of the circumference of the limb damaged) should be removed because the branches will die, and meanwhile the exposed area will attract pathogens. I cannot tell from your pictures what the specific problem is. You might want to have an arborist conduct an onsite consultation to determine the exact problem. See: In the meantime here are some resource sites that may help narrow down the possibilities. The sites discuss the common diseases of maple trees. And the final resource was published lately as there have been many maple tree problems in the area this year. 1. 2. 3.