Maple trees drying up in Albany and Rensselaer counties

August 10, 2017 04:52 PM

You may have noticed it in your neighborhood or even your backyard.

"It sucks the water right out of it and affects the cambium layer of the tree," Mike Constable explained.

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Maple trees are drying up and losing their leaves in Loudonville, Menands, Brunswick, Troy, Schaticoke and parts of the Adirondacks.

"I've seen a rapid spread throughout Rensselaer county and we actually removed an elm tree that was affected by it."

It's a fungus of the rhytisma family but more widely known as Tar Spot of Maple.

The reason for it according to the DEC is too much moisture, lately.

Out of the 122 days since April, 64 of them had measurable rainfall.

"It can start to affect even if you have gardening nearby or other plants," Constable said.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rensselaer County recommends you rake and bag all your leaves instead of sending them out in to your driveway or street.

"As soon as you see it contact a local tree service just to make sure that you do catch it in time before takes over the whole tree," Constable recommends.

The DEC isn't calling it an epidemic but issued this statement:

"DEC’s forest health team is currently conducting aerial surveys of forested areas throughout the state and have observed that the tent caterpillar is having a peak season in the northern part of the state (Tug Hill and Adirondack region) which can damage the health of the trees.   

Anyone that notices any insects or markings on their trees are encouraged to email DEC’s forest health staff to examine the photos and in some cases go out to inspect a threatened tree.  Photos can be emailed to DEC’s Division of Lands and Forests at

As for the fungus, you can also avoid the spread by not using natural mulch.

"When one of these trees here are chipped up, we normally give them to nurseries for renewable energy and things like that to cover of the base and roots of the tree so by avoiding using that natural mulch, you can sometimes prevent this disease from spreading," Constable said.


"Verticillium wilt does kill trees, however tar spot and verticillium wilt are not the same disease. 

They are caused by very different fungi. One is a leaf spot which is not serious to tree health and the other is a wilt which is deadly and transmitted through the roots.

Tar spot is common, especially this year and innocuous and folks should not panic if they see it. 

Raking the leaves will work as tar spot control but it will not help with verticillium wilt."

Isabel Munck, Plant Pathologist

Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry


Karen Tararache

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