Dead branches in maple tree

Asked July 23, 2019, 8:02 PM EDT

My otherwise healthy Maple trees have one or two dead branches in them. I have seen other maples around the the area withs problem. What is going on? Also starting to notice light spots on the leaves.

Livingston County Michigan

1 Response


A number of issues can cause dieback of one or more branches. Girdling roots is one common cause of dieback in maples. Compacted soil, past droughts, canker on branches, or cracked and/or broken branches can cause dieback, too. I see some holiday lights hanging from the tree- if these have been there more than one season, check that the tree hasn’t grown such that the wire is starting to imbed itself into the bark.

Follow the dying branch back toward the trunk- check for any cracks, missing bark, fungi ( “mushrooms”), or irregular areas. Look at the base of the trunk- is there any sign of damage or a large flat area on one side? When was the lawn area around the tree aerated? Is there damage to a large root that is near the surface? Has there been any construction, digging or parked vehicles within 50 feet of the tree roots?

Correcting a girdling root and aerating compacted soils around trees takes special training and equipment that arborist services can provide.

You can hire a certified arborist, a professional who has taken training in care, diseases, pests and passed certification tests. He/she will come on site and give a complete diagnosis and care plan for all the trees. He can also correct the girdling root, if possible. Find certified arborists by zip code here—-

The spots on the leaves are the developing fungi called tar spot. This disease begins in early spring as leaves start to emerge, causing the dark brown to black spots on leaves and is more prevalent in years with wet springs. If doesn’t hurt the tree. Here are details-

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