Maple tree looking bad

Asked August 28, 2019, 11:25 AM EDT

Is this simply an early fall color or is it a disease? If a disease, any remedy? The tree is 24 years old located on our front lawn in a residential neighborhood. No previous problems. Many thanks. -Dave

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3 Responses

The foliage turning brown like this suggests there might be a trunk or root problem, not a disease. Is there any visible damage to the trunk or around the base of the tree? Do you see any mushrooms at the base of the tree (a sign of decay)? Maples are also susceptible to girdling roots, which, over time can cut off the sap flow in a tree.

Was there any construction in this area in recent years? Soil compaction and/or change in soil grade can also lead to tree decline.

If there are no visible trunk symptoms, you may want to have an arborist come out to evaluate the tree. You can find a certified arborist using the "find an arborist" section of the website from the International Society of Arboriculture.


Christa, thank you for your response. The maple tree now has turned to orange and simply appears as fall colors although premature. Here are two pictures of the trunk for your evaluation.

Your trunk suggests that there are multiple girdling roots causing this stress. The way it goes straight into the ground suggests that either it was planted too deeply or there are girdling roots, both of which can kill a tree over time.
Maples in particular are prone to this.
Early fall color is a sign of stress, but the fact that the leaves are completely brown and crunchy suggests that the tree is on it's way out unfortunately.
Here is our page on Girdling Roots:

And here is our page that helps homeowners decide when it may be time to remove a tree: