The Q&A Archives: Browning Edges Of Leaves On Maple Tree

Question: I have a maple tree in my front yard, I have only lived here for 3 years, so I am not sure what kind it is. It may be a sugar, it stays green all year until the fall, then has bright red leaves. We noticed last year that the top of the tree looked a little thin as far as leaf development. This year is even worse, and the leaves on some of the brances are dying. They are turning brown from the outside edges inward. I brought a small branch to a local outlet here, and they said it was because of drought, and lack of nutrients. They suggested a root feeder and fertilizer. We have many other maples in the immediate area, and all those are doing well. Just looking for a second opinion, since it's about 35 feet tall and beautiful, I don't want to lose it.

Answer: Maple Leaf Scorch is a common problem with maples. It's environmental; when drought or heat stresses the tree, not enough water reaches the leaf margins to keep up with transpiration. Or, the symptoms can be from from overfertilization and too much salt has been translocated to the leaf margins. In your gardening reagion the bacterium Xyella fastidiosa has been associated with these symptoms, as well. Try to avoid over fertilizing (especially if the tree is growing in the lawn). Water deeply, and try to avoid root and trunk injury.

Another common problem with maples is Anthracnose, a fungal disease. Symptoms vary, but generally include spots or blotches on the leaves, not dead edges. Severly diseased trees can defoliage early and cankers on twigs and branches are evident. Check your maple thoroughly for these lesions or cankers to rule out Anthracnose.

While these are only suggestions, one of the problems might fit with the symptoms you're seeing. You might try taking a sample to your local Cooperative Extension office for their expert advice. Reach them at (810) 469-5180. Good luck with your tree!

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