Japanese Red Maple - Knowledgebase Question

Syracuse, Ne
Question by jonacki
May 26, 2010
My Japanese Red Maple is 12 years old and for the first time this year it only has leaves on 1/3 of the tree. All the other branches appear to be dead. The leaves are on the side of the tree closest to our house. There does not appear to be any animal damage on the trunk. What caused this? Will my tree live?
Should I cut off the dead branches?
Thank you,
Debbie Onacki

Answer from NGA
May 26, 2010


If the tree is only leafing out on the protected side, the side closest to the house, it sounds like winter damage. Cold winds or ice can kill back branches, or at least retard their growth. Try scraping the bark on the affected branches. If you find green tissue beneath the bark, the branch is still alive and there's still hope. If the tissue beneath the bark is brownl, that part of the branch is dead and you can safely cut it off. With any luck there will be live material somewhere on those seemingly dead branches. If so, they will eventually leaf out. If not, the entire branch should be pruned away. As long as the roots and the rest of the tree is healthy it will send out new sprouts and you can train those sprouts into new branches. Let's hope for the best!

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