Japanese Maple Trunk

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Japanese Maple Trunk

Post  hometeamrocker on Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:09 pm

Yesterday I noticed this Japanese Maple "Glowing Embers" has bark peeling away around the base. Not sure of the cause so I thought I'd ask if the knowlege here in the IBC had any ideas. The wood around the edges feels kind of soft, but the wood under feels sturdy. Penny for your thoughts?

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Re: Japanese Maple Trunk

Post  Alain Bertrand on Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:48 am

Your mapple has probably survived to an attack of verticillium wilt.

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Re: Japanese Maple Trunk

Post  0soyoung on Sun Jul 15, 2012 6:34 pm

hometeamrocker wrote:Yesterday I noticed this Japanese Maple "Glowing Embers" has bark peeling away around the base. Not sure of the cause so I thought I'd ask if the knowlege here in the IBC had any ideas. The wood around the edges feels kind of soft, but the wood under feels sturdy. Penny for your thoughts?

There are a number of ways that the cambium can be killed on Japanese Maples. Most likely it is due to something that dessicated part of the tree instead of a pathogen (soil inhomogeneity, dry wind). At any rate, the cambium died on the lower left side of the trunk of your tree. The surviving cambium has formed a callus that is now growing to close the wound. While this is happening, the old bark gets lifted at the edge of the callus giving you the sense that the wood bark around the edges feels kind of soft - as you know, it can be flaked off here, not that you necessarily should.

If you are going to let the tree continue growing, there is a fair chance that the wound will close in a few years. Otherwise, I would air-layer the tree above the wound next season, using the top for bonsai. I say this only because I don't like dead-wood features on JM bonsai.

And, let me just note that by my experience, pathogens are usually fungal and attack JMs thru bark cuts, most commonly pruning cuts (though your tree's damage clearly wasn't from pruning). Simply dipping your cutter in rubbing alcohol or a chlorine bleach solution before and after pruning a tree will prevent spreading the pathogen.

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Re: Japanese Maple Trunk

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sun Jul 15, 2012 6:51 pm

[quote="0soyoung"]
hometeamrocker wrote:
And, let me just note that by my experience, pathogens are usually fungal and attack JMs thru bark cuts, most commonly pruning cuts (though your tree's damage clearly wasn't from pruning). Simply dipping your cutter in rubbing alcohol or a chlorine bleach solution before and after pruning a tree will prevent spreading the pathogen.

If you use this technique, please be sure to oil your tools well after working, because this treatment will encourage RUST.

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Re: Japanese Maple Trunk

Post  hometeamrocker on Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:03 pm

Great info, thank you for sharing. I wonder if it could have come in through the graft? I'm leaving the tree in the ground for a few more years and the intention was for the brach in the picture to becom ethe leader, and layering the top parts. I'll let nature take it's course and observe, act asa needed and learn with the progress.

Cheers,
Eli

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Re: Japanese Maple Trunk

Post  Alain Bertrand on Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:10 am

Most likely it is due to something that dessicated part of the tree instead of a pathogen (soil inhomogeneity, dry wind)
I really wonder what makes you assert that. Soil inhomogeneity doesn't appear suddenly when a trunk is already half an inch or so. Pathogens do. The dead part of the tree is on side of the tree protected by the fence.

In any case :
http://ccesuffolk.org/assets/Horticulture-Leaflets/Verticillium-Wilt.pdf

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Re: Japanese Maple Trunk

Post  0soyoung on Mon Jul 16, 2012 7:26 pm

Alain Bertrand wrote:
Most likely it is due to something that dessicated part of the tree instead of a pathogen (soil inhomogeneity, dry wind)
I really wonder what makes you assert that. Soil inhomogeneity doesn't appear suddenly when a trunk is already half an inch or so. Pathogens do. The dead part of the tree is on side of the tree protected by the fence.

In any case :
http://ccesuffolk.org/assets/Horticulture-Leaflets/Verticillium-Wilt.pdf


What makes me say this is that I planted a 2 inch trunk 'Tsukushigata' specie JM in my yard and, of course, carefully watered it during the first season. I was lax about watering in the next season, thinking it should be reasonably well 'established'. But, during a hot spell all of the leaves on several major branches 'flamed out', meaning they curled and went brown and remained firmly attached the tree. The cambial death wasn't apparent until the following spring. The typical green bark was seen on live branches and in the life line of partially surviving branches. Otherwise the bark was thin and light grey colored (similar to old JM bark). My understanding is that verticillium induces a black color. I did not find any coloring of the cambial rings in branches that I pruned that spring. Further, it is my understanding that JM's rarely defeat a verticillium infection when it is in the trunk of the tree. Last season that I noted the same recovery as reported at the start of this thread happening at the base of the tree and along branches with life lines (as opposed to live cambium in the entire circumference).

I also had/have an 'Ukigumo' specie JM that was a bargain buy B&B. I planted it per the usual instructions to just lay back the burlap after it has been placed in the hole. The following winter was unusually dry and windy and all the cambium dessicated and died on its sunny and wind-exposed side. Again, this was not apparent until the next season. I dug it up and bare rooted it the next spring (because of its poor recovery) to discover that it had just a few fine roots growing from the stumps of what had been its roots in the field and cut off when B&Bed. 'Ukigomo' is now recovering in a pot of Turface MVP.

'Tsuku' is in a more protected location and was damaged on its unexposed north side. I recall that the soil was rather sandy there and more so on the affected side than the opposite. So, from this experience I infer that dryness was the dominant factor. Conversations with horticulturalists have convinced me that fungal infections (e.g., netria canker and the over-cited verticillium) are progressive and that JM only survive if the infection is on a branch that can be lopped to remove all of the fungi - on the trunk is 'always' fatal. Lastly, I had never pruned either of these trees nor ever done anything to damage the bark on their trunks prior to the partial cambial deaths.

So, it is true that soil inhomogeneity doesn't suddenly appear. But rather than play 50 questions with hometeamrocker, I elected to simply mention this in case the watering routine and/or weather had changed or the tree had been relocated last season or before. Regardless, my key point is that hometeamrocker's tree is recovering from partial cambial death instead of suffering from something now. My secondary point is verticillium smerticillium - verticillium is not the answer to every JM affliction.

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Re: Japanese Maple Trunk

Post  marcus watts on Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:48 am

hi,
its clear to see it is recovering from a near death experience - normally it is something common rather than exotic too, desication often kills one side of trunks and branches. Acers close to walls and fences really can suffer from reflected baking hot dry air - I killed the back of a good one years ago when it was close to the house wall, so learnt the hard way.

More importantly than worring what caused it though is working out if what is left is worth the time and effort trying to make a bonsai from ? However big the tree gets this dead section will rot out in time for sure, they always do after such dieback, so it will be a semi hollow, lop sided piece of material to play with....not a total write off but quite limiting.

cheers Marcus

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