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

Thursday - September 05, 2013

From: Charlotte, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Young Maple Dropping Leaves in Late Summer
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a 6-year-old maple tree. I'm not sure what type it is as the builder planted it. It is as tall as our two-story house and very healthy. It's the biggest tree in our neighborhood because we fertilize it. The leaves have begun to turn brown and drop. I noticed that the inside leaves had brown spots on them and are turning completely brown and are dropping. It's not fall yet! At this rate, there won't be any leaves left for the change of color! The tree is still very leafy on the outside and green but the inside is becoming bare. The branches look fine. We have had a very wet summer this year. Could this have anything to do with it? None of the plants underneath the shade of the tree (Knock out roses, day lilies, and philodendron) have done well this year.

ANSWER:

Congratulations on taking good care of your maple tree. It certainly is healthy to be so young and already have reached the top of the house.  It is great that you are also watching your tree for early signs of any problems.

If you want to try to identify your maple tree (if it is a native one), you can look at our website for the Acer genus (maples) to match leaf shapes, tree size and form. We have 27 species and varieties of maples listed.

The wet summer you have been having in North Carolina could be the factor that has caused a fungus disease to attack maple trees (more than other years). This disease is anthracnose and causes v-shaped, brown or tan patches (necrotic areas) to form on the leaves in between the veins and ultimately the leaves to fall prematurely.  There are some good images of leaves infected with anthracnose at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station factsheet on Common Diseases of Maple for you to compare with your tree. Other leaf diseases are included as well.

For many fungus diseases that attack trees it is important to rake up all the fallen leaves so that the fungus spores do not overwinter on the soil surface and reinfect the tree the following year. Usually this is enough to keep the disease under control.

If your early falling leaves continue to progress and the health of the tree is a concern, it is suggested that an arborist be consulted.

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Brown spots in St. Augustine grass
July 05, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, My husband and I are in the Air Force and were recently moved to Cibolo Texas. We built a home and hired a landscaper to finish the yard May 07 (with irrigation system). We laid d...
view the full question and answer

Young Mexican White Oak Losing Leaves in Texas
July 13, 2016 - I have a 5 yr old Mexican white oak, 20 ft tall losing its leaves mostly at the top. They turn brown & fall off. It does not lose its leaves in the winter, right?. About 3 ft from the top down is bare...
view the full question and answer

Theory for live oak shoots from Austin
August 25, 2011 - More on preventing suckers from coming up around live oaks in Austin. I too have been puzzled - why some live oaks have shoots, and not others. Posting here says different varieties have suckers. ...
view the full question and answer

Wilting American Smoke Tree in Texas
April 21, 2013 - I planted a young American smoke tree last fall (mid-November) and it put out a good show of tentative new leaves this spring. Then to keep the tree form I clipped some little shrubby start ups at the...
view the full question and answer

Fronds turning brown on yucca in Leander, TX
April 13, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I live Northwest of Austin in Leander and have grown a spanish dagger yucca for several years. It is 8 feet tall and each spring it puts up a showy spike of blooms. The old fr...
view the full question and answer

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