Leaves curling on a Japanese Maple

Asked June 18, 2020, 5:01 PM EDT

Hi, The leaves have recently begun to curl on my Japanese maple. I don't see any spots or holes indicating that it might be a fungus or insect. I read online that these trees are susceptible to Verticillium but the leaves are not turning yellow. It also looks like many of the smaller, new branches are dead as well. I had not been watering it because it was raining so often, but the last week or so has been warmer so I did water it. I included a photo of the trunk as well because it has some irregularities in the bark and I'm not sure what to make of them. Thank you.

Niagara County New York

1 Response

Thank you for getting in touch.

Your tree may have incurred some damage from its position in a grassy lawn. There appears to have been mechanical damage to the trunk, probably from a mower or weed cutter. That is a danger as a point of entry for disease. If the lawn has been treated with any fertilizer and or weed control products, those can be dangerous to your tree. Weed treatments would cause the type of leaf curl and tip dieback you have noticed.

I cannot see if the tree is planted correctly, with the flange visible, but it would do better without the grass around it so that it has freely draining soil that can be enriched. A bit of dryness would not have created a problem this severe at this point in the season.

I cannot tell you whether this is a cultural problem, chemical problem or disease. If there have been no chemical applications to the grass, a certified arborist should inspect the tree.