Red-Twig Japanese Maple - Winter Dieback? Or Disease

Asked May 2, 2018, 2:12 PM EDT

I've lived here 3 years, and each spring my miniature Red-Twig Japanese Maple exhibits problems in the spring. Many branches die back in clumps -- almost a witch's broom effect. This year, two branches also showed a weird flattening along much of their length. (See attached photos.) Exposure is full sun. There may be some root stress due to annuals planted at the tree's base. What is going on here? Any ideas? Any solutions?

Carroll County Maryland

1 Response

We had our plant pathologist look at your photos. This does not look like normal growth for this variety of Japanese maple. Was there damage to the main trunk of the tree? It looks like it is producing shrubby branches, possibly from root sprouts or the original graft root. It does not look like it will grow into a normal tree. In addition, with all the shrubby growth, there is going to be shading and competition for light so you will get some sections with poor leaf growth. Your options would be to prune the tree and maintain it this way if you like it -- or consider a replacement.