En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - July 26, 2008

From: Royersford, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Thinning out of maple tree following heavy winds
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

A 15 yr old red maple lost significant fruit in spring from heavy winds, in summer the tree seems thinned out. Is this the reason? Tree is otherwise very healthy and has always had thick foliage in summer.

ANSWER:

You didn't say what red maple you have, but we chose to consider Acer rubrum var. rubrum (red maple) because it is native to Pennsylvania. Acer rubrum can be somewhat weak-wooded and may suffer storm damage. The following excerpts are from the article Red Maple by Russell L. Walters and Henry W. Yawney:

"Damaging Agents- Red maple is generally considered very susceptible to defect. Especially on poor sites, red maple often has poor form and considerable internal defect. Discoloration and decay advance much faster in red maple than in sugar maple. In northeastern Pennsylvania, average cull ranged from 13 percent in 12 in. diameter red maple trees to 46 percent in 24 in. diameter trees. Only associated beech and black birch were more defective."

"Mechanical injury is a common source of defect in hardwoods, and red maple is especially sensitive to wounding. Often, large areas of cambium surrounding the wound will die back. In shade tree maintenance, wound dressings have not proven effective in stimulating wound closure or internal compartmentalization of the damaged area. Increment boring causes discoloration and may lead to decay in red maple. Callus growth, when established, is reasonably rapid, but an extra year or two often is needed if cambial dieback has been extensive around the wound. Red maple was rated intermediate with respect to amount of damage after a severe glaze storm in Pennsylvania. In one study, major damage was sustained by 41 percent of the black cherry, 16 percent of the red maple, and 5 percent of the hemlock."

It would appear that you are correct that the wind damage is responsible for the thinning of the tree. If you have not observed any insect damage, we would think that given another year, the tree will recover.

 

More Trees Questions

Which is best-Oklahoma Redbud or Texas Redbud in Austin?
March 25, 2010 - I live in Northwest Austin and would like to plant a small redbud tree in my front yard. My yard gets full sun. Which is better - the Texas redbud or the Oklahoma redbud?
view the full question and answer

Christmas decorations on a live oak in Montrose CA
November 18, 2009 - Is it OK to put Christmas lights and decorations on a live oak?
view the full question and answer

Digging sassafras roots in Oklahoma
March 11, 2009 - When should I dig sassafras roots in eastern Oklahoma?
view the full question and answer

Trimming oaks and elms from New Braunfels TX
June 20, 2012 - I would like to trim my live oaks and elm trees at the same time, if possible. I think they are American Elms. When is the best time to do this and avoid oak wilt and Dutch elm disease? Should all c...
view the full question and answer

Can hackberry twigs and leaves be safely used in compost?
March 05, 2009 - If Hackberry trees and leaves have growth inhibiting compounds, should they not be used in compost piles?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center