Red Maple Upper Crown Die Back

Asked December 31, 2018, 12:18 PM EST

We have a mature red maple in our yard that has exhibited significant die back of he upper crown area of the tree to the point where most of the leaves are gone by late Sept. The rest of the tree has normal foliage and appears to be healthy. We have observed a similar, but not as serious affect on the pin oaks and red oaks in the area. Do you have any idea why this is happening? - Thanks in advance for any assistance you can give. -Fred Victor MG St Mary's County

St. Mary's County Maryland trees

1 Response

Dieback in a tree crown can indicate a problem at the main trunk or root system. Is there any physical damage to the trunk? Do you see any girdling roots at the base of the tree? (https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/girdling-roots) Dieback can also be a symptom of soil compaction (was there any construction work in this area in recent years?), herbicide applications, lack of oxygen to the roots (changes in soil grade, too much soil placed on top of the root zone, too much mulch?). Bacterial leaf scorch might also be a contributing factor in the decline of maples and oaks (https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/bacterial-leaf-scorch-trees). In other words, it could be any one or a combination of issues. Can you show us photos from around the base of the tree and tell us more about the site use/history?

If you have concerns about a declining tree that is close to property we recommend having the tree inspected by a certified arborist. You can find an arborist using the following website from the International Society of Arboriculture. http://www.treesaregood.org/

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