Bark gone from red maple

Asked May 26, 2019, 12:46 PM EDT

We have a red maple that we planted about 5 years ago. It's about 12 feet tall and looks very healthy. This morning we discovered several inches at the bottom of the trunk have had the bark stripped off nearly all the way around. The pieces of bark were lying on the ground at the base of the tree. My husband thinks it's from a young deer rubbing as he saw shallow hoof prints in the mulch. But we thought this is the wrong time of year for that. Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of the damage because my husband has already placed a protective sleeve around the trunk to protect it from further damage. I have attached a picture of the tree. Is there anything we can do to save the tree? Thank you.

Montgomery County Maryland

3 Responses

It is unfortunate to hear about the damage to the bark. Your tree looks like it is growing beautifully. We can't say for sure what might have stripped the bark. You are correct that it is the wrong time of year for deer to be rutting; that happens in the fall. Sometimes squirrels will strip bark for use in their nest. There is not anything we can recommend to do about the lost bark. Pull the mulch about 6" away from the trunk so that it isn't touching the trunk directly -- this will help to prevent the possibility of rot. The mulch around the tree should be no more than 2-3" deep. Keep the tree watered during dry periods. That is really all you can do.


Thank you so much, Christa, for your response. (And I apologize for the delayed thanks.)

We're now seeing the bark coming off up higher on the tree. I've attached a photo of it in hopes that you can determine the cause and whether or not we need/can do anything to maintain the health of the tree.

Thank you again.

We cannot say for sure what caused the bark damage. A possibility may be squirrel damage. You can try to put some wire over the area to protect the trunk. There is nothing else you can do other than water during dry periods and monitor for more damage.