The Q&A Archives: Japanese Maple Leaf Wilt After Heavy Rain

Question: For the second time this spring my Japanese Maples have had leaf damage after high winds and heavy rain. First it happened on my Lion's Head Maple (Shishigishira) - the leaves went limp and never recovered, then dried up and crumbled, and after 7 weeks it showed no signs of sprouting new leaves. Yesterday we had another heavy storm and my Sango Kaku (Coral Bark maple) had the same thing happen to a major branch. I don't want to lose this one too. I also have a Ever Red & Shindesojo and neither suffered any damage at all. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: I wish I could be more helpful, but it's so hard to determine the source of the problem without more information. I can make a few suggestions: there are bacterial blight diseases that are ever present and strike when a tree has been weakened by other factors (such as Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae) but the damage sounds so swift and complete, I can't say for sure that's the problem. Japanese maples are more delicate than other maples, and don't fare well in places that are exposed to extreme winds and other damaging weather. The weather has been so strange this year that even if you've planted your trees in a sheltered place, they may not escape damage.

I suggest you have a knowledgable local professional take a look at the scene and suggest the cause, so you can protect your other trees from future problems. Your agricultural extension office (ph# 313/494-3003) can put you in touch with someone who can help. I wish you the best of luck!

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