This is an Amur Maple, Acer Ginnala "Flame", planted in USDA zone 4 about 15 years ago. There are others like it planted in the neighbourhood who also have the cracks in the trunk this one does. I speculate that thin barked trees grown further south and planted in a colder zone cannot handle the whipsaw temperatures and freezing rain that are a regular part of our winters.

It is a tough scrubby tree but it has a two foot crack or longer on every major branch and a crack on the trunk that runs to the ground.

Some have healed up and the largest one down the trunk to the ground has gotten worse this winter after the episodes of freezing rain.

Any recommendations to remove or brace it?

2022 update: we had an arborist brace it with two stainless steel rods and the tree held up fine in the derecho wind storm this summer. The arborist gave it no more than 10 years before it falls apart so it's time to plant a new tree!

Amur Maple, Acer Ginnala

Amur Maple, Acer Ginnala closeup

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    What are the two halves of the tree going to fall on when they go? Is it worth it? Even if an arborist manages to get fresh, live wood growing over the crack, the crack will always be there, through the heartwood, weakening the tree. Mar 27, 2020 at 13:18
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    @WayfaringStranger The tree would fall on a hedge so no costly things. I am hoping to plant another tree and keep this one for a while until the new one is larger
    – kevinskio
    Mar 27, 2020 at 15:45

1 Answer 1


It looks to me like this tree is on its way out. Can you reach the crotch shown in the bottom picture? If you can, is it damp and/or rotten at the bottom? If so, then my recommendation is to remove it - BUT - don't just listen to me. Contact a certified arborist (NOT a "tree guy") and get their opinion. They may have ideas for bracing, but given that the major crack reaches the ground my guess is that they'll recommend removing the tree. They may also be able to explain why all the trees in the neighborhood show similar cracking.

I've seen these trees in La Crosse, WI US (Zone 4b) without any cracking, but they've been a bit smaller in caliper than yours. Maybe you're correct about southern trees in a northern climate. I do know that stock from a certain nursery-supplying-company with locations in Georgia and Oregon does not do well in Wisconsin even though it's hardy to zone 3-4.

  • I did get our arborist in and he offered to remove or brace, our choice. As a man of few words this is practical but not quite enough explanation and led to this question
    – kevinskio
    Mar 27, 2020 at 15:55
  • Based on your comment above (tree will only fall on hedge), I would leave it and plant the new tree somewhere where it will be out of the way when this one goes. I would probably take it out within 3-5 years. I base this, oddly enough, on dentistry. I am not a dentist, but remember when I cracked a molar. My dentist looked at the tooth and then told me if the crack had gone into the root, we were looking at a root canal and a probable eventual extraction. Given that my crack hadn't done that, I got a crown. Your tree has cracked to the root, so an eventual "extraction" is inevitable.
    – Jurp
    Mar 27, 2020 at 19:21
  • I believe you are right but I am annoyed with myself that I did not notice the poor crotch structure visible in the second picture. This tree was not going to live a long time no matter what the weather
    – kevinskio
    Mar 27, 2020 at 21:24

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