The dry conditions caused the leader on the tree to drop its leaves this summer. Do I need to prune it or wait to see what happens next spring? enter image description here

2 Answers 2


I have the same situation every summer due to dry weather conditions in California and the location of my maple tree. I leave the stems around and have never pruned them. Does not seem to create a problem because I see new growth in spring.


This just might be a disease like phytophthora or anthracnose, verticillium wilt. To diagnose a disease one needs to know whether it is viral, bacterial or fungal.

Your tree is displaying a disease that might mean taking the entire tree down. Not be replaced by the same species or by species that are susceptible to the disease diagnosed.

This is a good time to get to know your Cooperative Extension Service. Talk to the Master Gardeners and possibly sweet talk them into coming out to your place to get diagnostic samples. The most important place someone needs to inspect is where that dead leader stops and live tissue starts.

We can help but you'll have to get ready to show cross sections of branches, live and dead, leaves, and cambium slices. Do you see any other trees on your property as well as all your neighbor's that shows a large dead branch while the rest of the tree looks healthy?

If you touch that tree with pruners make dang sure you clean them well with alcohol before using those pruners on any other plant.

  • It was placed by the city three years ago. Very healthy but for the leader.
    – Evil Elf
    Oct 12, 2016 at 1:06

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