Bark peeling off a Norwegian Sunset Maple

xxxxxx56(5)September 4, 2012

I have a young norwegian sunset maple that the bark has peeled off of on one side low to the ground, exposing a light colored wood beneath. The peeled area is about a foot tall and about an inch wide. The tree trunk is about 2 inches in diameter, however, it is now smaller where the bark peeled off. Is this normal? If not, what is it and what can I do about it?

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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Picture please...defintitly not normal. Did it just fall off?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 12:41PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

is a norway maple ...

its probably sun scald ...

usually on the SE or SW side of the tree .. often a winter issue.. though it might not show until the following summer ....

trees heal themselves.. nothing to do ..

where are you ..
a pic would help us define if it is improperly planted ...
how old..
when planted ...

need some more info ...


    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 12:41PM
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I'll take a few pictures of it tonight and post them.
The tree was planted about two years ago in June. It is planted in a well drained area.
When I purchased it, the trunk was about 1-1.5" in diameter. It is now about 2", so I am not real sure of the exact age. The tree looks healthy, has lots of nice green leaves. It just has this one spot where the bark cracked and broke off. I do not see any insect damage, so I do not think it is bug related, but I do not know for sure. The spot is facing more west than south west.
I have a few other norwegian sunset maples that were bought and planted at the same time. This is the only one that has this problem.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 2:14PM
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'Norwegian Sunset' is actually a hybrid maple, combining the best characteristics of its parent species, A. platanoides and truncatum. Should be very tolerant of drought, heat and sunscald so a pic to determine what's going on is very much in order.

I agree with whaas - not a "normal" occurrence.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 3:50PM
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Here is a picture of the tree. Notice the missing bark at the bottom.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 4:59PM
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Here is a close up of the missing bark.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 5:05PM
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I just noticed that it looks like it is starting to happen on the other side of the trunk as well....

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 5:09PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Good news and bad news. Bad news first. Looks like it was improperly planted. There is no root flare visible, which means it was planted too deep. This can be easily fatal. The Good News. Your tree has formed callus and is in process of closing the wounds, and it appears to be doing so fairly vigoriously. This is probable what pushed the loose bark off. That is a good sign, but it's not out of the woods yet.

What to do. Remove ALL the grass in the mulch of all those trees. Less competition from the grass, then better, especially when they are getting established. Also carefully remove soil around the tree out to the size of the planted rootball, until you find the top layer of roots extending from the trunk (the root flare). Do this will all of these trees. This root flare needs to be right at the surface so that there is proper gas exchange, otherwise roots suffocate and die, killing the tree. Do these things and maintain watering etc for a couple years, and I think your tree has a better than even chance at recovering.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 5:21PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

That wound is so severe I wouldn't invest in that plant.
Recommend it gets replaced due to its age and availabliity.

I'd do what Ark mentioned on all the other trees you have there.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 6:01PM
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Maples with splitting bark are not all that uncommon.....just one of their less desirable characteristics to go along with all those surface roots :-) I'm not all sure I'd consider those wounds very severe. The first seems to have been compartmentalized adequately and I see no reason why the second/more recent shouldn't as well.

I do think ark's comments appropriate also but sometimes I think we expect too much perfection from our plants and our landscapes. Too quick to jump to an "off with their heads" conclusion :-) Plants seldom grow without blemishes or in precise shapes and sizes and we need to be congnizant of that. Afterall, these are living things, not pieces of furniture.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 6:39PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

FTR, the reasons I think this tree has a very good chance to recover are two fold. There is no sign of any rot at this time, which assuming is correct, means the tree has some time to close the wounds. The second reason is the vigor of these hybrids. I have seen Pacific Sunset at the local botanical Garden planted in landscape islands of the parking lot add more than 1" caliper and 6+ feet in one growing season. I know the OP has Norwegian, but both these hybrids are VERY similar, and growth rates are similar from reading the patents. In fact I would fertilize the tree fairly heavily before leafout next spring to encourage as vigorous growth and caliper increase as possible. I have done this before with success. Won't save a tree with rot, but one like this without rot, then it can help close the wound more quickly so that there is less chance of rot developing.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 10:18PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I'm shocked you two would not recommend cutting your loses with this readily available tree of this size. The wound is severe and not anywhere near the extreme I've seen on any young maple. Its not only on one side but the other side as well and additional bark cracking is taking place above the massive wound.

There are some serious issues with this tree IMO. The irregular growing canopy of this extremely uniform growing tree is suspect as well.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 10:57PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

The canopy looks fine to me. Little lopsided, but that looks more like it's from the tree farm than anything. For me personally, I just know that these trees will close wounds faster than you would believe possible. Our pure Shantung "Fire Dragon" had a wound last year that I did not even know about, as it was covered with bark the entire growing season. This spring after it started growing I noticed something odd, and got to porking around and discovered it was loose bark covering a closing wound. The original wound was at least 1.5" wide, but here's the catch, all but about 1/4" of the wound had already CLOSED. Looking at the callus it was easy to see that it had formed in one season. As far as the cause, I assume it was the -25F we recorded the winter before. All I know for sure, is that the tree seems unperturbed in the least. Yes the OP's trees wound is severe, but Shantung anything are FREAKING TOUGH!

This again, combined with the cleanness of the exposed wood, makes me think the tree has an excellent chance to recover fully. Even if you replace the tree, it's going to be significantly behind the others, as once they start growing, then get on with the show. Also if this were a slow growing species slow wound closing species like Sugar Maple, then I would probable replace.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 11:49PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Fair enough, thanks for the additional experience details. I guess the poster should be thanking you. I just like to see people take the time to further explain a position so we can all learn from it.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 1:28PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Your welcome. I don't always explain my reasoning as well as I think I do, and I know that. Never hesitate to ask me to explain myself. :-)

Also I should add, if rot began to appear, then out it would be. We have a PaperBark Maple that I have taken the same approach with. Developed allot more wound than I would have liked to see after the first winter in two locations near each other. They probable cover 50% when taken together. But they were clean with no rot. They both closed this spring after three years, with never any sign of rot. And the tree has been growing a couple of feet per year. It may not work out for the OP, but if they do all the things suggested, and keep the wound clean, then there is a real solid chance for success.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 1:59PM
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Thanks for all the replies.
When I planted these, I followed the guide on the card that came with them. I did not realize that I planted them too deep, as I did exactly as the card said.
I will do as suggested here and remove some soil to get to the root ball.
Is that the reason that the damage occured? Was it because it was planted too deep?

I will keep an eye on this one to see if it is indeed healing quickly. I'll give it a year and make a decision to replace it or not.
As for some of these trees "leaning" at the top....
They all came with slight curves to them. When I staked the trees I tried to bend them back as close to straight as possible. Some of them have continued to bend a little more even after staking them. Does anyone have a suggestion on how I can "convince" them to grow straighter?
Thanks again for all the help.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 2:54PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

It's a learning process. You did better than most if you actually read and followed the instructions on the card. As for the cause, planted too deep would be a common cause of what you are seeing. BUT, it could have been hit, could have gotten too dry, could have been on a truck with that one too exposed, etc. Or some combination of factors. We can't know for sure. Also if you do not know, the caliper and closing of the wound can continue right up to leaf fall. So it would likely be best to wait until fall 2013 before making any judgements, and that also happens to be a great time to plant a replacement if needed.

As for the bend, about the only thing you can do is to select a leader, and tie it to a taller stake to keep it straight to a point above whatever height you would like. Our Shantung does not have a central leader either, so you tree being a hybrid of the Shantung, I would not be surprised if you always had trouble maintaining a straight central leader. The Pacific Sunset that I mention above does not have central leaders either, so they jsut may not be destined to have them.

Stick around and learn with the rest of us. :-)


    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 3:54PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I have the same problem with the bend in my hybrid.

This particular one is called 'Satisfaction', a hybrid selected my Mckay Nursery in WI. Its supposed to have more refined foliage and be a bit more compact in regards to width. Mine however has a strong central leader.

You can't tell so much in the pic but I too put a stake in there to pull the leader in. Its still leaning a bit but perfectly acceptable on my books. After it fills in a bit it will be less noticeable.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 7:43PM
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IMO, leans such as either tree shown in this thread are ultimately insignificant. There will be so much growth in various directions as to make it completely non-issue.

OP, while it is admirable that you bothered to follow directions with the planting, those cards are just as often wrong as right. The usual "plant at same depth as in the pot" or whatever completely misses the point that the root flare, that zone of buttressed growth where roots diverge from trunk, is to be left visible upon completion. Since trees are dug in nursery rows after various cultivation practices have thrown soil up over what will be the root ball, that can be completely obscured. Also in potted stock, the plant may well have been placed too deeply into the pot at some point. So directions of that sort are virtually of no value.

I always advise that when in doubt about the truth of this concept, people take a walk in the woods and perhaps for the first time in their lives, see how trees actually grow. They kind of sit on top of the ground. And yes, a too-deep planting surely can start a tree down the road to bark/stem abnormalities although as Ark also points out, we can't know for certain what caused this with yours.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 9:12PM
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brian_zn_5_ks(N.E. Kansas)

Boy, there is an awful lot of damaged cambial tissue.

All I'd say, as a nursery retailer, is that I certainly wouldn't try to sell you this tree, it would go straight to the brush pile.

Good luck if you decide to save it.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 8:03AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

What is the position of the plant by the way? If it where in the middle, I'd put a different species in there as a specimen....if you decide to repalce.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 1:14PM
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