Whats wong w/ my tree? What do I do?

Asked May 30, 2018, 8:24 PM EDT

Help, our small Red maple type tree has white icky things all over the branches. It is ooozing a clear liquid. Is it dying?? Should we cut it down???

Macomb County Michigan red maple with scale

3 Responses


This tree has cottony maple scale, an insect that some years has a very high population. The ‘sap’ is the the sugary substance these insects excrete. Your tree isn’t a maple, but these insects attack many trees other than maple. Correct Timing is critical to controlling them, and is usually done starting about July. That is because the white covers over these insects protect them until they emerge later in summer. Insecicide Tree Soil drenches can be applied now- they take several weeks to get into the trees system. The white splotches will remain on the tree but the scale insects underneath will be killed.

Here are details on cottony maple scale with control options-


You can look closely at your insects ( you may need magnification) and compare to the pictures here-


In any case, keep the tree watered during times of drought, and prune off any completely dead branches. You may have to wait until late next spring to tell if a branch is completely dead. Here is a pruning article that shows correct techniques-


If you can tell me if this tree flowers, what color they are, and send a picture showing the whole tree, I may be able to identify the tree, too. Thank you for using our service.

Thanks 4 responding. First in the spring the flowers are pink & then turn to this dark burgundy color. So wat tree do u think it is??? Thanks MaryBeth

Hi MaryBeth,

I think it is a Cherry Plum also called Myrobalan plum, scientific name is Prunus cerasifera. A couple popular cultivars are ‘Mt St Helens’ and ‘Thundercloud’. If any small fruits are on the tree later, carefully cut some open. There should be a single pit inside, like a cherry. If the inside resembles a small apple with several seeds it is a crabapple instead. Send me a picture of the fruit, both whole and cut open, if you think it is a crabapple. (I couldn’t find any crabs in my references that retain the purple leaf color all summer.)


The treatment for the scale insects remains the same. Good luck!