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

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


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.


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

Need help with a fungal disease in oak trees in Austin, TX
April 26, 2012 - Two adjacent oak trees in my yard are showing distinct symptoms of Sudden Oak Death. Most notably, the lowest ten feet of their trunks have several bleeding cankers with thick, tarry ooze and no accom...
view the full question and answer

Small oak tree with powdery mildew in San Antonio, TX.
May 09, 2012 - I have a small oak tree with powdery mildew. Is there anything I can do about? Will it kill the tree?
view the full question and answer

Pustules on geranium
March 28, 2005 - I have a geranium that has developed oblong red/brown pustules/raised bumps on the undersides of the lower leaves. The foliage around the bumps is stil green but everything else has yellowed
view the full question and answer

Death of mature tulip tree in Raymond IL
June 06, 2010 - We have a mature tulip tree that leafed out and looked very healthy then all of the leaves turned brown and fell off. I think the tree is now dead. We live in the country and have a corn field behind ...
view the full question and answer

Oaks at Wildflower Center from Wimberley TX
September 05, 2012 - I know you have numerous Quercus fusiformis examples at the ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. My question is, do you also have Quercus virginiana growing there? Also, is Oak Wilt a disease that ...
view the full question and answer

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