Answer: Based on your description it sounds like the bark damage is due originally to the bark thawing and then refreezing in the winter on sunny days. This problem is fairly common on maples and can be avoided by using a winter tree wrap on young trees with softer bark. Once this happens, there isn't much you can do. Sometimes the tree can heal itself, but in other cases the damage serves as an entry point for insect and disease problems, which it sounds like may be happening now. The black tips might be a result of drought damage causing some winterkill, but might also be the sign of the early stages of disease. You might want to consult with a professionally trained arborist or your county extension (252-5051) as to the prognosis for the tree and if you need to do anything to keep the other two trees healthy.
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