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I have a maple in my front yard that suddenly has some variegated leaves on two branches. It is this maple that I asked about in 2019. The pruning effort seems to be going well, but two branches that I'm trying to train upward and eventually replace higher outward pointing branches have grown in variegated this year. At least, I don't remember them being variegated last year.

I know there's a few maple varieties with such leaves, but I don't think this is one of them, since the leaves have been solid for previous years. Is this a genetic fluke or possibly something else? Should I try to do something about it for the health of the tree?

When I say variegated, I mean really heavy. Some leaves are almost entirely starch, which means they have no productive value to the tree. It's only on two branches, which are mostly shaded by higher branches, and are small and coming out of the main trunk a little differently. Overall, the tree looks healthy.

Pictures:

Leaves

Branch

Tree

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I'm assuming that you didn't plant the tree and aren't away of the cultivar. If I'm correct, then your tree is actually a variegated maple, probably Acer platanoides 'Drummondii'. These trees always throw out branches that revert to the original green, and these green branches quickly out-compete the variegated one unless quickly pruned out. Over time the entire tree can turn green. Your tree is young, so the reversions would've had to have started within a year or so of the tree's planting for the tree to have become so green so soon.

Assuming that this happened, then the tree put out two branches from remaining "variegated" buds. This is the end stage of the tree turning completely green.

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  • I moved here in 2018, so you are correct, not my planted tree. So would you suggest any action, or is this an aesthetic choice? As in the picture, it's more than variegated; some leaves have no green at all. That seems bad.
    – user6937
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 13:59
  • I would say green and light green, so not "no green at all" (I'm comparing to several types of variegated Hosta where the white parts are quite white, as well as some that are tri-tone green, light-green, and white.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 20:24
  • @6937 The variegation was an aesthetic choice - the person who planted the tree wanted it (the variegated leaves are fine for the tree - they just make it grow slower). There's no harm to the tree if you want to cut it off and go with an all-green maple.
    – Jurp
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 21:59

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