Posted by Ken Tucci, WBZ-TV

Why are my Maple trees leaves turning brown, dropping and then the branch dies? My neighbors and friends have the same thing happening on their properties. My neighbor lost a beautiful full grown tree in less than a year. My fully grown tree is getting very sparse with the leaves. Can anything be done to reverse or stop the process?  – Bob, S. Chelmsford

I’m curious about the maple tree fungus that seems to be on all the maple trees in Mass. The leaves are now turning brown and falling off long before they should.  – Carolyn, Berlin

Well Bob & Carolyn, we asked Bob at Pemberton Farms in Cambridge about this and here’s your answer: 

Stress Stress Stress!  That is the only way to describe why many of our favorite trees look the way they do now!

The 2011 growing season has had more than it’s fair share of extreme weather conditions.  Starting in April and continuing each month even through this weeks extreme amounts of rain our plants and trees are showing the effects of all this adverse weather.  One of the most notable effected by this is one of the most common trees, The Maple Tree. 

Heavy rains followed by extremely hot and dry times, back to heavy rain and high levels of humidity have caused maples and many other trees to be more susceptible to diseases, insects and other adverse issues.  The worse many have seen in years. Foliage turning brown and dropping, autumn colors appearing now and branches dying off all are all found in trees that are in a weaker than normal state.  Insects and diseases are also more common when trees are stressed.  One of the more common issues is the maple bladder gall.  Unfortunately this time of year there is not much you can do to help stop this from occurring.  I would suggest that when all the foliage falls from your trees later this fall that you make sure you remove all the leaves as many diseases will stay on the dead foliage and the spores can re-emerge next spring.

Hang in there.  Maple trees are very resilient, all should be fine for next season.



  1. Dennis Panu says:

    Hi Todd,

    I just saw your segment on problems with maple trees highlighted above. I have to say that you got it all wrong! The photographs of the maple leaves you showed illustrated spindle galls caused by Eriophyid mites, not a fungus. These are not considered to be a threat to the health of the tree and treatment is not recommended.

    The question from Bob S. in Chelmsford probably refers to an early season fungal infection that affects the vascular system of the maple trees’ branches that can cause the loss of branches and death of the tree called Cytospora canker. The only treatment is preventive and involves keeping the tree healthy and vigorous. This includes watering the tree during periods of drought.

    Carolyn’s question probably refers to maple Anthracnose, a fungal leaf infection that infects the leaves early in the season and causes premature leaf drop around this time of year. This can be treated in early spring, but again, this is not generally considered a to be serious problem that needs treatment.

    Please consider consulting with an American Society of Consulting Arborists Registered Consultinng Arborist or a Massachusetts Certified Arborist when you have questions pertaining to tree care.

    Feel free to contact me anytime through my website at or at 860-923-3066.

    Dennis Panu
    ASCA Registered Consulting Arborist #396
    Massachusetts Certified Arborist # 1419

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