En Español

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

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 - July 17, 2012

From: Redding, CA
Region: California
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Problems with maple tree in Redding CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a 2 yr. old October Glory tree that is looking bad. It leafed out this spring, but not as much as the others. In total I have 9 red maples along a fence row about 15 feet apart. The trees on either side of the sickly one look great. They are watered deeply once a week. The leaves on the tree are a lighter green in color than the other trees, more sparse and look dry and wilted.


According to this USDA Plant Profile map, Acer negundo (Ash-leaf maple) is native to Shasta County, in north central California. However, according to this Arbor Day Foundation website, what you have is a cultivar of Acer rubrum (Red maple) which, according to this USDA Plant Profile map, is native only to the eastern half of North America and not in California at all.

We like to check on whether or not a plant is native to the area in which it is growing, because if it is not, that could explain the problems the plant is having. However, in your case, this appears to be a problem with this one tree out of nine. A tree only two years old could certainly still be vulnerable to transplant shock. We're assuming that all your trees were planted at the same time and in the same manner, so if just the one has transplant shock, it must hark back to something that happened before or during the planting of that particular tree. The trees roots may have been rootbound when you bought it, and if they were not clipped to open up the root system, the roots could still be wrapping around in the shape of the pot and strangling the tree.

This Southern Living article on 'Autumn Glory' recommends it highly but also mentions transplant shock and root strangling. It is very difficult to correct errors made in planting. One possibility is that the roots of that tree have poor drainage, in which case the yellowing of leaves could be due to chlorosis. You could attempt a fix on that by adding an iron supplement to the soil around the suffering tree. Root damage may be preventing the new rootlets from accessing minerals and nutrients from the soil. Don't overdo it and treat only trees showing that symptom. Chlorosis is more likely to show up in alkaline soil but, again, if the other eight are all right, your soil is probably right for the maple.


More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Dying trees in San Marcos, Texas
September 24, 2011 - I live on 11 acres in San Marcos and cannot water at all during this drought. All of my oaks and mountain laurels are turning brown. Does this mean they are all dying? Will they come back in the sp...
view the full question and answer

Bark problems with Monterrey oak from Austin
September 15, 2012 - I planted a 65 gallon Monterrey Oak (White Oak) in my front yard in February of this year. I water it once a week. All of the leaves and branches appear very healthy and there is no discoloration....
view the full question and answer

Spots on bark of Mountain Ash from Engadine MI
April 30, 2012 - I have a mountain ash that is about 5 years old & have just noticed white, patchy, scaly looking spots on the bark. Is this something to be concerned about???
view the full question and answer

Protection of American beautyberry in Pennsylvania
July 30, 2007 - I have had a beauty berry 2 years now. I trim it back in early spring and it returns beautifully. ...but no flowers this year and it's almost August. Last year, very few berries. Can you help? I...
view the full question and answer

Shy blooming non-native Crape Myrtle, in Littlestown Pennsylvania
July 25, 2011 - My Crape myrtle has been planted about three years, and reached a height of about 4'. It blooms late July and for the past two years, has only had one or two blooms on it. I have a lot of buds whic...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center