En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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


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.


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

Spacing of Trees near a House Foundation
June 18, 2015 - Can you recommend non-invasive shade tree that can be planted 6 to 7 feet from foundation. We are buying a new home in zone 8a and choices that are given are: Live Oak, Lacebark Elm, Cedar Elm, and B...
view the full question and answer

Planting and care of Desert Willow in Golden Valley, AZ.
May 17, 2013 - I got a desert willow to plant in yard. Some of the leaves dried out before I could plant. Will that stop the tree from growing into a decent size tree or stay as a shrub?
view the full question and answer

Care of a live oak with decay and perhaps fungus on trunk
July 14, 2011 - I have a huge live oak on my property in Salado that just lost a very large branch. The branch had decay in the center and also has a variety of bugs in it, espeically since it has been on the ground...
view the full question and answer

Do Deer Eat Orchid Trees?
March 08, 2013 - I have planted three anacacho orchid trees, however we have a lot of deer around us. Is this a tree they will want to eat? Do you have any ideas to keep deer away?
view the full question and answer

Avoiding cedar elm because of allergens
August 18, 2008 - Hi. Cedar elm, Ulmus crassifolia, seems like a wonderful, tough, drought tolerant native tree. I'd like to plant several to shade buildings. I'm being discouraged from doing so because Cedar elm ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center