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What's this? Problem?

Smolenski7

Smolenski7

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I noticed last summer that the northwesterly side of a maple tree in my yard that the bark seems to have this black mold forming on it. It is dry to the touch and does not come off easily, unless it is caked on and I scratch it with my finger. Otherwise, it really doesn't come off.

The leaves have a few black spots as well and these bumps that are pretty unsightly.

From looking at the tree from afar or even from the 3 other sides, you wouldn't know there was a problem. It seems to be very healthy. There area is really not wet at all. The driveway is to the southwest (for the most part) of the tree, about 12ft - 15ft away. The water from the driveway sheds off in the opposite direction.

Is this a problem? If so, what can I do to help it before I call a professional?

20200721_144428.jpg 20200721_144434.jpg 20200721_144444.jpg 20200721_144543.jpg 20200721_144428.jpg
 
Smolenski7

Smolenski7

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Looks like rot to me... but I'm not a professional.
Someone will be along shortly to help you.
Thanks for the help. It could be rot, but I don't think so because it is dry. I would think that rot would be caused by water....which is certainly possible....but wouldn't those areas also be at least damp? These areas are dry, and where they are caked on, can be scratched off. When I can scratch it off, it's like a dust.
 
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TNTreeHugger

TNTreeHugger

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Idk... the bottom of the trunk looks to me like it's had physical damage, did someone run into it with a car, or mower?

All I know is I had a huge beautiful more than a hundred year old hickory fall over in a bad storm. I was shocked at what the root system looked like - not much of it and what was there looked all punky. So, that taught me you can't always judge the inside of a tree by it's outer bark.
I'm sure @ATH or some of the other guys can help you.
 

Del_

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The tree looks to have a seriously abused root system. It looks like bark is missing a ground level. It is hard to tell just what happened to the root system during construction but I bet a lot of damage was done. Long term prognosis is bad. It looks to have hypoxylon canker.
 

JTM

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Is that landscape fabric at the base on the right? Looks like the root flare is covered up too. I learned the hard way as was pointed out to me here. Don’t ever use fabric around the base of a tree and don’t cover up the root flare.
 
Smolenski7

Smolenski7

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TNTreeHugger....thanks for the article. I read it thoroughly.

I'm just a regular homeowner, so I have no expertise at all. After reading the posted article, I guess it could be Phytophthora, however, the tree and area in which it is planted don't have many of the symptoms. For example, the soil is not moist, the leaves don't show signs of stress, and there is no "gum or dark sap" that oozes from the tree. "Oozes" sound like the dark stuff on the trunk should be moist and sticky.....and it's not. It's dry and flakes off where it has accumulated in spots. Yes, from looking at some of the pictures I found online, they do appear to look similar to what is going on with my maple, but with no other symptons I'm not 100% convinced.

If it it Phytophthora, besides digging around the base to expose the main roots to dry out, what can be done?
 

ATH

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On the leaf is maple bladder gall. Insignificant.

+1 on getting rid of the landscape fabric, or whatever is around there. Pull the grass/soil back away from the base. There may be a root on that left side putting pressure on the trunk...can't see the root flare. What does the back side of that look like?
 

ATH

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Might even scrub off the black spots with a stiff bristle brush to see if they come back. I suspect they are deeper than the bark and scrubbing will not do any good...but it won't hurt anything to try. It will tell us whether it is only surface deep or not.

Next, I'd very gently dig at one of the black spots to see what is going on there. Does it go deeper than the bark? Make any cut less than a 1/2" square. Save that material and send it to https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/ppd/
 
Smolenski7

Smolenski7

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ATH....thanks for the help.

There is no landscape fabric....that's just a part of the tree on the right.

I'll definitely dig a bit into one of the dark spots tomorrow, take a picture, and post. I'll also dig around the base. How far down do you think I need to dig? I assume just a few inches around the whole base.

I'll also send a sample for testing.

Sent from my SM-G973U1 using Tapatalk
 

ATH

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You see how the trunk goes down then flares out to the roots on the right side and foreground of the 1st picture. There is no such flare on the left side. It is there somewhere. Maybe not as pronounced, but it should flare out. If a root is wrapped around the trunk, that will prevent the flare from forming. Or maybe it is just buried. Be careful not to damage bark as you dig. Sometimes water makes that easier (messier! - but easier). I'd use an AirKnife, but I don't suspect you have one of those;) If you do find problematic roots, may be worth hiring somebody who does have one.
 
Smolenski7

Smolenski7

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So I did a little work around the tree today.

I dug all the way around it to expose much of the root system. It appears that a few of the roots are definitely encircling other roots. I left everything alone, careful not to do too much damage. I certainly did not cut anything away.

I also scrubbed the bark with a stiff brush. Much of the black stuff came off, along with some bark that was so dried up that it would have fallen off anyway. However, the bark is definitely stained. I cut away a very small section, about 1/4" deep. The black does penetrate the bark, but only about 1/8" deep. The wood underneath does not seem infected....at least in the spot where I dug which was about 3ft off the ground on the northern side of the tree.

I also found a bunch of bugs infesting the tree at the soil line on the norther side of the tree where the bark just flaked off. I don't think they are the South Tree Roots Exposed.jpg West Tree Roots Exposed.jpg Northwest Tree Roots Exposed.jpg East Tree Roots Exposed.jpg North Tree Roots Exposed.jpg North Tree Top.jpg Whole Tree North.jpg Spot Right Side.jpg After Straight on.jpg Bugs.jpg cause of the problem, just a symptom of moisture?
 
Raintree

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Bleeding canker side of your maple is toast, necrosis due to girdling root. Phytophthora is being opportunistic. Callus tissue is developing left & right of the trunk die-back, a healthy maple can compartmentalize the canker fungus advance. Maintaining proper tree health at this stage is paramount. Possible choking root extraction is to be had on driveway side of stump.
 

ATH

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The big is an earwig... like you said, just there for the moisture and decomposing whatever.

Cut off the small encircling roots...but these are the ones that really need to come off - and they won't be fun. Will require a chisel (or lately I've been using an oscillating multi-tool) and care not to damage the bark underneath.
East Tree Roots Exposed.jpg South Tree Roots Exposed.jpg
 
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