How to Identify Common Diseases in Southern Sugar Maple Tree

Did you know that the sugar maple tree grows to a height of 60-75′ and a spread of 40-50′ at maturity?

The Southern Sugar Maple tree is among the beautiful maple tree species found in the Southeastern United States. It boasts an impressive stature that symbolizes balance, endurance, longevity, and strength. With its vibrant foliage and sturdy presence, you can use it as a majestic focal point and an avenue lining your driveway.

Unfortunately, your Southern Sugar Maple tree is susceptible to diseases. This can impact their health and aesthetics. Below is a guide that explores how to identify common diseases that can affect Southern Sugar Maple trees.

What Are the Common Southern Sugar Maple Tree Diseases?

Growing a Southern Sugar Maple tree can be a rewarding endeavor. But it’s important to be aware of potential diseases that can affect it. Here are some common maple tree diseases you should watch out for:

Maple Tar Spot

Tar spot is one of the most common maple tree leaf diseases. It causes black, tar-like spots to appear on the leaves.

This makes your tree look unattractive. While the disease usually doesn’t harm the tree significantly, extensive outbreaks can lead to leaves falling off early.


Anthracnose is another leaf disease that can impact your Southern Sugar Maple trees. This fungal infection creates brown or black irregularly shaped spots on the leaves. The leaves may also curl or become distorted.

This disease can weaken your tree by causing it to lose its leaves prematurely. For severe cases of anthracnose, call certified arborists.

Maple Wilt

Southern Sugar Maple trees can get maple wilt. It’s often caused by the fungus Verticillium. This disease blocks the tree’s water-carrying vessels, leading to wilting.

Additionally, it can cause browning of leaves and eventual death. The disease can spread through contaminated equipment or soil.

Sapstreak Disease

Sapstreak disease occurs due to the formation of dark staining in a star-shaped design on the cut trunk of your maple tree. It usually gains entry through damaged roots.

Once it penetrates the tree, the sap streak fungus actively blocks the flow of water and nutrients to the branches and leaves. This can prevent their growth and lead to poor health.

Root Rot Disease

Root rot disease is most prevalent in areas with wet and poorly drained soil. This disease attacks the healthy parts of the plant, compromising its vascular system. When it attacks your sugar maple tree, it becomes incapable of receiving the necessary water and nutrients.

To notice root rot, “fruiting body structures” may form on the bark along the trunk and roots. Sometimes cankers that resemble “bleeding” spots can emerge on the wood.

Leaf Scorch

Leaf scorch is not the result of a fungal, viral, or bacterial infection. Instead, it occurs during hot and dry summer weather.

The tree faces difficulty in transporting sufficient hydration to its leaves. As a result, the edges of the leaves can curl and turn brown.

Ways to Identify Common Southern Sugar Maple Tree Diseases

Identifying common diseases in Southern Sugar Maple trees can help you take care of them before the diseases spread further. There are several ways to help you identify common diseases that can affect Southern Sugar Maple trees.

Conduct a Visual Inspection

Performing a visual inspection of a Southern Sugar Maple tree can help you identify any signs and symptoms of diseases. Here are the visual signs of disease to look out for during your inspection:

  • Unusual discoloration, such as browning or spotting
  • Distorted or misshapen leaves
  • Sunken, discolored, or oozing bark
  • Peeling, cracking, or unusual patterns on the bark
  • Excessive sap oozing from the tree’s bark
  • Insect infestation
  • Fungal Growth
  • Dead or decaying roots

When you actively observe the tree’s physical condition, you can spot potential issues early. This way you can take appropriate actions to address them.

Assess the Environmental Factors

Analyze recent weather conditions, such as heavy rain or prolonged drought periods. These weather factors significantly influence disease development. For instance, excessive rainfall can create a humid environment that fosters the growth of fungal pathogens like anthracnose.

Additionally, soil drainage plays a pivotal role in disease assessment. Inspecting waterlogged areas encircling your tree’s base is essential. This is because poorly drained soil sets the stage for root diseases such as root rot.


When you encounter unexplained abnormalities, you may need to test your Southern Sugar Maple tree. Active testing of affected plant parts can provide accurate disease identification. This allows for timely and precise management strategies.

What’s more, testing can unravel complex disease interactions. For instance, your sugar maple tree may display symptoms like wilting leaves. This may be due to root rot or verticillium wilt.

Pinpointing the exact cause through testing can help your tailor the treatment. As a result, you can avoid misdiagnoses and ineffective treatments.

Consult With Experts

Uncertainty regarding the specific Southern Sugar Maple tree disease can cause frustration. This is why you should consider seeking guidance from local tree experts.

They will offer specialized diagnoses of the Southern Sugar Maple tree diseases. What’s more, they can recommend appropriate interventions tailored to the specific disease at hand.

Southern Sugar Maple Tree Care

Maintaining a healthy Southern Sugar Maple tree can greatly reduce the risk of diseases. Not sure where to start? Here are some beginner-friendly essential care tips:

Find the Right Planting Location

Choose a well-draining soil location with adequate sunlight. For your Southern Sugar Maples, grow them somewhere with partial shade.

Employ Proper Soil Preparation Techniques

Ensure the soil is well-draining and slightly acidic. Adjusting the soil with organic matter can improve its structure and nutrient content.


Keep your maple watered, especially during the first years after planting. Focus on deep watering. It is better than frequent shallow watering.


Apply organic mulch around the base of your maple tree. Mulch helps regulate soil temperature, hold moisture, and prevent weed growth. Keep the mulch away from the tree trunk to avoid rot.


Regularly prune dead, diseased, or damaged branches. It helps maintain good air circulation and prevent disease spread. Prune during the dormant season to reduce stress on your maple tree.

Work With Qualified Tree Services

Identifying common diseases in Southern Sugar Maple trees is essential for their continued health and vitality. Stay vigilant and practice proper tree care by hiring tree experts.

At Action Tree Service, we offer expert care to ensure your Southern Sugar Maple trees thrive. Contact us to get a free quote.

Contact Us

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.