Maple Tree

Asked October 5, 2019, 7:55 AM EDT

My maple tree in the front of the house at the corner (I live in a subdivision) has one side that is robust and one side that looks weak and the leaves are small. I think it has been struck by lightning on the good side 3x over 4 years. After a storm there has been a downed branch and it has been black on the branch that has fallen looking like it has been burned. This year I put black woodchips around one side of the tree. The tree is basically at the corner of a square that has woodchips in it. What is it? And, what can I do? Will the tree die if I do nothing? How long does tree have if I do nothing? It is at the corner of the front yard and there are sidewalks on both sides.

Oakland County Michigan

1 Response


The leaves and bark of the tree in the photo actually suggest it is a Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) rather than a species of maple. Have you noticed yellow tulip shaped flowers on it in the spring?

I’d recommend that you have the tree evaluated by a certified arborist. You can find a list of certified arborists in your area by following the screens at this website: As you search by location, you will reach a screen that allows you to enter your zip (postal) code. This will return a list of certified arborists in your area. Selecting a name provides contact information. (You might want to review the situation with a few of them prior to contracting with one.)

The failure of one side of the tree to thrive suggests a vascular problem of some sort—something is preventing water and nutrients from reaching the leaves in that area of the tree. This could have a number of different causes--damage from the lighting strikes, a fungal infection (verticillium wilt), root zone damage, etc. Onsite examination is the most effective way to pinpoint the cause(s) and assess the current health of the tree. That assessment will give you the information you need to decide your next steps.