Is something killing my sugar maple?

Asked June 20, 2018, 5:24 PM EDT

Hello, My 20-year-old sugar maple tree’s leaves are full and the tree looks great from the distance. The tree stands alone in my yard, but is maybe 1/3 acre away from my woods. I noticed this year that the bark is splitting, turning black in places, esp where branches fork off from the main trunk/stalk, & it seems to be spreading upwards. Also, this is the first time I saw this white fungus that almost look like someone painted white stripes. I inspected the tree in March and don’t recall seeing it then, but I did see various pencil-eraser-sized holes in the bark, some 3 in a row/straight line. I thought the holes were the work of a yellow bellied sapsucker & that if I wrapped the tree with loose burlap, it’d save it from further damage. But now that I see the black and white “stuff” taking over, I’m worried that my beautiful tree is diseased from the inside. (I recently had a tree in my woods fall & saw that it was hollow inside at the base, as if it decomposed inside.) I also noticed very small insects flying around the bark of my sugar maple. Can you ID the both the white and the black fungus? I’ve read up on lichens, and to my knowledge that looks different than this paint-like substance. Thank you!

Carroll County Maryland

1 Response

Our experts think this looks pretty normal for a maple. It looks as if the trunk is expanding in girth and the whitish markings are related to algaes, lichens and moss:

Take a look at this page for signs that a tree may be failing: