Dead Section of Paperbark Maple

Asked September 17, 2019, 10:43 AM EDT

I have a multi-stemmed paperbark maple in my north facing front yard. There is a fairly large section of it, on the north side of the tree, that seems to be dying or dead. The very top of this section did not leaf out this spring. The leaves on the lower part of this section have already turned and are ready to drop. There are green patches on the bark of this part of the tree. I have attached photos. Can you tell from this information and the photos if this tree is ill or infested? Is there anything I can do to save it, or prevent it from getting worse? Thank you.

Washtenaw County Michigan

1 Response


Dieback on maples can be from root injury, trunk injury, girdling roots at or below the soil line, cankers on branches, or injuries on branches from wind or ice. Verticillium wilt is a possibility.

The best way to determine which of these is an issue is hire a certified arborist. These professionals have taken training in care, diseases, pests and passed certification tests. He/she will come on site and give a complete diagnosis and a plant care plan. Find certified arborists by zip code here—-

The tree appears to be planted or mulched too deeply. It is good that you have mulched in a wide circle around the tree. This mulch should not be deeper than 3-4 inches, and should be pulled back a few inches from the main trunk so that the trunk stays dry . The trunk should flare out at the soil line, an area known as the root collar or root flare. The arborist can check this and correctly excavate it. He will also check for girdling roots and the other issues mentioned above and take the proper corrective actions.

I see you are trying to protect the base of the trunk- was it damaged by chewing from rabbits or voles? This damage can cause branch dieback.

Verify the tree is properly watered. Check soil around the tree to a depth of 10-12 inches. Use a narrow trowel or shovel and dig carefully so as not to cut or injure large roots. If soil is dry, water the tree all the way around the root zone until this depth is moist. If it is wet, or sticky heavy soil, the roots may be drowning, or lack oxygen, and you will need to determine why too much water is standing around the roots.

During the arborist visit he can explain in detail how to correctly water and mulch the tree, and correctly prune back any dead limbs. If soil is compacted the root zone can be aerated with special toolls.

Paperbark maples are beautiful and the arborist visit is a modest cost compared to losing /replacing your fine tree. These references explain details on mulching, tree care, etc. should you need them.

I hope this is helpful. Thanks for using our service.