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 non-native citrus trees from Mesa AZ
January 13, 2014 - We have one valencia orange tree and one naval orange tree in our Mesa, AZ yard. Just noticed some oranges on both trees have a 1/4 inch diameter hole through the skin and the orange fruit and skin a...
view the full question and answer

Chilopsis linearis Bubba in Hunt TX
October 18, 2009 - I purchased 3 desert willows (label: chilopsis linearis) to create an oasis area around a fountain which is in the center of my circle drive. But I need one more. Now I can only find the "chilopsis...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing, tall taproot tree for El Paso
September 01, 2008 - I live in El Paso Texas and would like to know what would be a good shade tree to plant. I would like this tree to grow fast and tall. I would also like the roots to go straight down.
view the full question and answer

Mixed native plantings for steep slope in Austin
April 18, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: We wrote to you recently about plantings for a fairly steep slope in a park in Austin. We had asked about grasses and perennials. An article about planting on slopes in this mo...
view the full question and answer

Looking for non-native Chinese Pistache tree
April 23, 2015 - Where in the Austin area would be a good place to find a nice sized Chinese Pistache to plant in my yard?
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