Silver maple trees showing signs of stress

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources foresters are seeing many silver maples and some elms with stunted or no leaves and an abundance of seeds this spring. These trees are not dead and will rebound over the next couple of years. The DNR encourages proper tree care and patience.

“Silver maples from Minnesota to Ohio are experiencing this phenomenon,” said Brian Schwingle, DNR forest health specialist. “Environmental stressors and natural cycles of large seed production are factors in this situation.”

The large production of seeds means less energy is available for leaf development, causing stunted and sparse patches of leaves. Such conditions happen periodically with elms, maples, ashes and oaks.

Watering trees during periods of drought is important. The best way to water an established tree is to slowly apply water once a week for four to eight hours in the tree’s dripline (area underneath the canopy). This can be done by moving around a hose that is trickling water under the tree’s canopy or laying drip tubing on the ground under the tree’s canopy.

Fertilizing stressed trees is not recommended.

To learn more about tree care, visit the DNR’s tree care Web page at