Jack Frost nipped at the trees!

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Maine Forest Service

Jack Frost nipped at the trees!

Have you noticed unusual changes in the leaves of your trees? You're not alone! Reports have been pouring in from concerned individuals who have observed shriveled, blackened, discolored, and deformed leaves in the past week.

A freeze event that occurred during the week of May 14 significantly impacted several tree species in a specific region of Maine. The affected area stretches south of Newport, extends east to the Midcoast, and reaches the New Hampshire border. Damage reports have been widespread, with western Maine experiencing severe damage. In contrast, scattered reports have been observed in other parts of the described area, often in exposed areas and cold draws where cold air settled overnight. The symptoms displayed by the affected trees vary greatly, ranging from mild discoloration (primarily reddish hues) to dead leaf tips and margins and even complete wilting and death. Some trees were fully wilted, while others only suffered freeze damage at specific parts of their structure, such as the tops or bottoms.

Only time will reveal how the trees will respond to this event. Healthy trees are expected to produce a new flush of leaves, although these may be smaller than usual. However, trees already experiencing additional stressors, such as inadequate moisture or poor health during the freeze, may struggle to recover from the damage.

It is important to monitor the condition of your landscape trees and provide them with appropriate care. Consulting with a licensed professional arborist or tree expert can help assess the extent of the damage and determine the best course of action. Consider working with a licensed professional forester and allowing time to gauge recovery before making management decisions about trees in the woods.

Tree branch with wilted leaves

Freeze-damaged northern red oak, Wells, ME

Shrubs with brown leaves

Freeze-damaged American beech, Western Maine

Trees next to a road with brown leaves

Freeze-damaged northern red oak, Chelsea, ME. Image Courtesy C. Donahue.

Forest Health