If you're like most homeowners who have chosen to plant one or more maple trees on your property, part of the appeal of this species is its trademark bright yellow, gold, orange, and red autumn foliage color. Another good reason to plant maple trees is their relative resistance to common plant diseases, pests, and pathogens. However, maple trees sometimes fall victim to certain disorders that may require the services of a professionally trained arborist. Following are two fungal conditions that can damage or even destroy your maple tree.
Otherwise known as maple wilt, verticillium wilt is caused by fungal pathogens present in the soil. These fungi gain access to the vascular systems of the trees through the roots, and as the disease progresses, it interferes with the flow of water throughout the tree's leaves and branches. The infected leaves that fall to the ground further perpetuate the cycle of this disease by returning the fungal pathogens to the soil. There is no cure for verticillium wilt, and the disease kills young trees within a year. However, the services of a tree care professional can help prevent the disease from spreading to other trees, and may be instrumental in slowing down its progress in older, more established trees.
Anthracnose is a leaf disease caused by fungal spores on cankers, twigs, branches, and leaves. Symptoms include fungal fruiting structures along the leaf veins, early-season bud death, premature leaf drop, blotches and dead areas among leaf veins, and spots on leaves. Daily temperatures of less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit seem to be the largest contributing factor for whether a tree falls victim to anthracnose. Professional applications of fungicides beginning at bud break--and continuing until daily temperatures average above 60 degrees--may help protect individual trees from damage caused by anthracnose. In some cases, injections of fungicides can protect vulnerable trees for over a period of one year.
Check with your local arborist to see if this procedure is recommended for your particular situation. Dead branches and twigs should also be pruned out of infected trees, and fallen leaves should be raked and destroyed immediately. As with all fungal diseases, including fallen leaves in compost or using them as mulching material poses a significant risk of spreading the fungal spores to other parts of the yard and garden area and infecting other plants. For more information on keeping your maples trees as healthy and attractive as possible, contact your local professional arborist at your earliest convenience.