Contact Us Host an Event 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

Tuesday - October 27, 2009

From: Buda, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Red maple with burnt leaves in Buda TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I planted a red maple last fall. Planted in full sun here in Buda Texas. The leaves are yellowing and then they dry out completely almost looks burnt. Problem starts in middle of leaf and then works its way out. Any ideas?

ANSWER:

While we are going to check to see if we can find any diseases of Acer rubrum (red maple) with the symptoms you describe, we're pretty sure we can tell you what has happened. The Red Maple is native in Texas only to the far eastern sections. Here are its Growing Conditions from our Native Plant Database:

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Moist, slightly acidic soils.

That doesn't sound much like Buda, Texas, especially for the last two years, does it? The soils in this area are generally pretty alkaline, and certainly haven't been moist recently. Now that the weather has cooled and we have been getting some rain, the tree can probably go into dormancy for the winter without permanent damage. However, when it leafs back out next Spring, if we are having the same conditions, you need to be prepared to try to keep it alive with deep watering.

Getting back to the leaf yellowing, it sounds like chlorosis. We learned in our research that maples are often subject to iron or manganese chlorosis, especially when growing in an alkaline soil. This article from Cornell University Noninfectious Diseases of Maples discusses that possibility.

In the final analysis, it would seem that your tree is just planted too far west. It grows most prolifically in Eastern North America into Canada, and the small area in East Texas where it grows is as far west as it is considered viable.  It always pays to check on a plant, especially one as valuable as a tree, to make sure it will be welcome in the soil and climate where you want to plant it. 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Source for Texas Olive Tree from Tucson AZ
August 10, 2013 - Can one start a Texas Olive Tree from the olives it produces? How can you start one. I am having difficulty finding a nursery, but do see the trees around.
view the full question and answer

Problem with Quercus texana (Nuttall oak) in Alabama
March 12, 2014 - I have a 3" diameter Nuttall Oak that the builder planted when building the house. Last summer I noticed that several spots on the trunk were oozing sap (vertical approximately 1.5" long by 0.5" wi...
view the full question and answer

Digging sassafras roots in Oklahoma
March 11, 2009 - When should I dig sassafras roots in eastern Oklahoma?
view the full question and answer

Pruning mature cedar elm trees in San Antonio
September 14, 2008 - When is the right time to prune my several mature cedar elm trees? I'm in San Antonio, and they have never been trimmed in the 55 years we have lived in this home. I have several that are at least 7...
view the full question and answer

Mexican Sycamore trees grown from seed
November 15, 2011 - If someone is selling an alleged Mexican Sycamore grown from a seed harvested from a mature tree growing in Austin, is it likely to be a TRUE Mexican Sycamore -- or has it most likely been pollinated ...
view the full question and answer

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