Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Tuesday - October 27, 2009

From: Buda, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Red maple with burnt leaves in Buda TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I planted a red maple last fall. Planted in full sun here in Buda Texas. The leaves are yellowing and then they dry out completely almost looks burnt. Problem starts in middle of leaf and then works its way out. Any ideas?

ANSWER:

While we are going to check to see if we can find any diseases of Acer rubrum (red maple) with the symptoms you describe, we're pretty sure we can tell you what has happened. The Red Maple is native in Texas only to the far eastern sections. Here are its Growing Conditions from our Native Plant Database:

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Moist, slightly acidic soils.

That doesn't sound much like Buda, Texas, especially for the last two years, does it? The soils in this area are generally pretty alkaline, and certainly haven't been moist recently. Now that the weather has cooled and we have been getting some rain, the tree can probably go into dormancy for the winter without permanent damage. However, when it leafs back out next Spring, if we are having the same conditions, you need to be prepared to try to keep it alive with deep watering.

Getting back to the leaf yellowing, it sounds like chlorosis. We learned in our research that maples are often subject to iron or manganese chlorosis, especially when growing in an alkaline soil. This article from Cornell University Noninfectious Diseases of Maples discusses that possibility.

In the final analysis, it would seem that your tree is just planted too far west. It grows most prolifically in Eastern North America into Canada, and the small area in East Texas where it grows is as far west as it is considered viable.  It always pays to check on a plant, especially one as valuable as a tree, to make sure it will be welcome in the soil and climate where you want to plant it. 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Bird-attracting trees in Marble Falls TX
May 24, 2010 - What fruiting trees/shrubs other than red mulberry are good to attract native birds (and for bird watching opportunities)? We'd prefer native species, but does white mulberry attract as many bird sp...
view the full question and answer

Roots in mulch around Live Oak in Austin
March 10, 2011 - I have a 20 yr old Live Oak that has about 6-8 inches of mulch buildup around the base (I had landscaped around it). I went to break up the mulch to remove it from the base of the tree, but found it ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with dogwood borers in TN
April 20, 2011 - What is the best way to treat native dogwoods infested with Dogwood borer insects? I have cut and removed the dead ones and the ones with large patches of bark missing but would like to save the remai...
view the full question and answer

Does Acacia farnesiana (Huisache) have agressive roots?
November 30, 2014 - Hello, Do you know if the Huisache tree has an aggressive root system? I have a few in proximity to my septic draining field and I need to know if I should cut them down to prevent clogging of t...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in non-native crape myrtle from Wesley Chapel, FL
June 12, 2012 - I just bought a 12 ft. crape myrtle and planted it, giving it plenty of water I think. After 3 days the leaves are wilting and flowers are falling off.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.