seeping maple tree

Asked April 20, 2018, 9:55 AM EDT

We have lived in our home about 2 yrs, but there is a maple tree that is about 16 yrs. Last year we noticed about 1/2 way up the tree, there was a large crack in the main branch. We had a tree service come and they put a couple large screws in it and brought the crack back together. Now we have noticed several smaller cracks thoughout the main trunk and there is a liquid draining down the trunk. Is this normal or should we be treating it?

Douglas County Minnesota

1 Response

Hi, It sounds like your tree has a frost crack. It is common on smooth barked trees like your Crimson King maple and in climates like ours where winter temperatures fluctuate. The following is a definition of frost cracks from the Morton Arboretum: "FROST CRACKS Frost cracks, sometimes called freeze cracks, appear as shallow to deep longitudinal cracks in the trunk of trees. They are most evident in winter at temperatures below 15oF. Frost cracks occur on the south or southwest sides of trees because this area experiences the greatest temperature fluctuations between day and night. A sudden drop in temperature causes the outer layer of wood to contract more rapidly than the inner layer, which results in a long vertical crack at weak points in the trunk. Once a freeze crack occurs on a tree, it is likely to appear annually. Trees most susceptible to frost cracks include London plane, oak, Norway and red maple, horsechestnut, crabapple, walnut, linden, and willow." The following fact sheet gives you options for treating your tree, however just keeping your tree healthy may be the only treatment necessary. Cracks and Splits in Tree Trunks from the Missouri Botanical Garden: Finally, this is a fact sheet about your tree: If you feel that your tree is in decline due to the crack and since this is an important tree in your landscape, I suggest that you consider hiring a qualified International Society of Arboriculture arborist to see what can be done to repair or treat your tree. Go to to find a qualified company or individual in your part of the state.