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

Problems with fruit of Mexican Plum from McKinney TX
May 19, 2013 - MY Mexican plum tree (about 5 years old) has small fruit on it. Some of them are severely deformed, and look rotten almost. They are bumpy and ragged looking. Or they are pasty white,rotten and dried ...
view the full question and answer

Will desert willow (Chlopsis linearis) grow in N. E. Mississippi
July 21, 2008 - I am located in N.E. Mississippi. A friend of mine sent me a few desert willow seeds. I have about 5 plants growing now that are about 6 inches tall. I was wanting to know first of all, is it possi...
view the full question and answer

Are poplar trees and willows safe for animals to eat
August 04, 2008 - poplar trees and willows, are they friendly for farm animals to consume leaves?
view the full question and answer

Planting a redbud in VA
April 20, 2011 - What is the best time of year to plant Redbud (Cercis canadensis)in Burke, VA, 22152 - fall or spring or does it matter? And is there a certain size tree that is best to purchase for greatest chance o...
view the full question and answer

Fruit on Mexican olive in Austin
June 05, 2008 - Does Mexican Olive set fruit in Austin? Does there need to be a male and female tree or not. How old does the plant have to be to set fruit? Mine is three years old but no olives. I need to know ...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center