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?

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
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

Sunday - August 01, 2010

From: Pittsburgh, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Leaves on maple turning red in June in Pittsburgh PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We live in PA and have a medium sized maple tree in our back yard. It is not a red maple. This year, in June, the very top of the tree's foliage turned bright red. This bright red started at the top and worked its way down for about 12". The red leaves have turned back to green, now. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

ANSWER:

We always first try to establish what tree we are talking about, what variety or species. Of the genus Acer, maple, there are 23 native to North America and 12 native to Pennsylvania. So, we settled on Acer pensylvanicum (striped maple) to use as an example, since this USDA Plant Profile map shows that it grows in the vicinity of Allegheny County, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5b to 6a. 

In answer to your question, nope, we never heard of such a thing as the top of a maple turning red and then turning back green again. Is that all you wanted or did you want to know what caused it? We haven't a clue but we'll poke around in the Internet and see if anyone else ever heard of it. 

We found a couple of forums, and we don't ordinarily put much stock in the q&a's on them because they are usually just gardeners sharing thoughts. However, several mentioned drought stress as causing this phenomena in maples. If you have had less rain than you are accustomed to, we would suggest you stick a hose deep down in the soil around the roots, turn it on at a slow dribble, and let it run until water reaches the soil surface. Repeat this two or three times a month or until the rainfall seems sufficient. One other person said it sounded like a grafting failure on the maple tree, and the tree would now revert to whatever the parent root was. We know very little about grafting, and if that is what happened, there is not a thing in the world you can do about it. 

Now, the next time someone asks us if we ever heard of a maple tree turning red in June, we can say "sure."

 

More Trees Questions

Should I Prune Oak Trees in February in Wisconsin?
February 17, 2011 - I need to cut some oak branches but am worried about oak wilt. You told an earlier questioner not to cut in February. I live in Wisconsin and it has been very cold lately. Am I okay to cut the bran...
view the full question and answer

Toxicity of catalpa wood?
June 05, 2012 - Is the sawdust from cutting up a catalpa tree or the smoke from burning the wood toxic? Thank you,
view the full question and answer

Determining gender of Texas Hill Country native trees
August 22, 2006 - How can I identify which (Tx Hill Country) native trees are separate male & female? Specifically Tx Pistache and American Smoke Tree. Do I have to wait until they flower and inspect the flower for c...
view the full question and answer

Speed of growth on plants from Plant Sale from Austin
April 28, 2012 - Hello, I recently attended the native plant sale and bought several plants for a sunny curbside bed in central Austin. Due to financial constraints I stuck with the 3 inch varieties so I could buy 3 ...
view the full question and answer

My Cedar Elms drop leaves all year long. Is that a problem?
February 10, 2013 - Lake LBJ Area. My Cedar Elms,(I have about 8) drop leaves all year long and then drop all in late fall/early winter. Does the year round drop indicate a problem? It is definitely a nuisance. Thanks
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center