Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Saturday - July 26, 2008

From: Royersford, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Thinning out of maple tree following heavy winds
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

A 15 yr old red maple lost significant fruit in spring from heavy winds, in summer the tree seems thinned out. Is this the reason? Tree is otherwise very healthy and has always had thick foliage in summer.

ANSWER:

You didn't say what red maple you have, but we chose to consider Acer rubrum var. rubrum (red maple) because it is native to Pennsylvania. Acer rubrum can be somewhat weak-wooded and may suffer storm damage. The following excerpts are from the article Red Maple by Russell L. Walters and Henry W. Yawney:

"Damaging Agents- Red maple is generally considered very susceptible to defect. Especially on poor sites, red maple often has poor form and considerable internal defect. Discoloration and decay advance much faster in red maple than in sugar maple. In northeastern Pennsylvania, average cull ranged from 13 percent in 12 in. diameter red maple trees to 46 percent in 24 in. diameter trees. Only associated beech and black birch were more defective."

"Mechanical injury is a common source of defect in hardwoods, and red maple is especially sensitive to wounding. Often, large areas of cambium surrounding the wound will die back. In shade tree maintenance, wound dressings have not proven effective in stimulating wound closure or internal compartmentalization of the damaged area. Increment boring causes discoloration and may lead to decay in red maple. Callus growth, when established, is reasonably rapid, but an extra year or two often is needed if cambial dieback has been extensive around the wound. Red maple was rated intermediate with respect to amount of damage after a severe glaze storm in Pennsylvania. In one study, major damage was sustained by 41 percent of the black cherry, 16 percent of the red maple, and 5 percent of the hemlock."

It would appear that you are correct that the wind damage is responsible for the thinning of the tree. If you have not observed any insect damage, we would think that given another year, the tree will recover.

 

More Trees Questions

Non-native, invasive Paulownia for San Marcos TX
April 24, 2012 - Can a Paulownia tree grow in San Marcos? If so were can I get one?
view the full question and answer

Decorative Trees for Scenic Bench in Fairhope IL
June 10, 2012 - I am looking for a recommendation for a pair of small trees (does not grow taller than 18-20 feet) that can provide shade on either side of a stone bench. The site is in full sun, western exposure an...
view the full question and answer

Can Crataegus viridian be grown in Houston, TX?
June 21, 2015 - I am looking to plant Crataegus viridis (species or cultivar "Winter King") at a location in full sun in Houston. Many places I've found online say that it is hearty through Zone 9, but others have...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating black locust volunteers in Rockville MD
September 27, 2011 - I am a landscape designer whose client has a very large, mature black locust in her front yard. Not surprisingly, she also has multitudes of black locust volunteers popping up all over her yard. The...
view the full question and answer

Need a shade tree to plant in Houston, TX
November 18, 2013 - Hi, i'm looking for a shade tree to plant on the southwest side of our house, both to make our backyard more enjoyable and to improve energy efficiency. We really like Live Oaks, but they just take t...
view the full question and answer

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