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Hort in the Home Landscape

A blog devoted to sharing timely horticulture topics and answering the questions of gardeners and homeowners.
2015-06-04 18 25 59

Maple Tree Seedlings Everywhere

Posted by Candice Hart - Trees

If you are lucky enough to have a neighbor with a large maple tree, you are probably in the same boat as myself right now. Maple seeds that are germinating everywhere!  My particular neighbor has a large silver maple tree that rains helicopters (samaras) all over my yard. Don't worry, I pay him back in the fall with all the leaves from my large oak that he has to rake up.

Some years maple trees seem to create more seeds than others and I read a nice article recently that explained why. An Ohio Extension educator and a Davey Tree Expert Co. district manager explain it well here. Many questions were coming in this spring about why maples were showing bare branches with signs of stress.  Scott Heim, Davey Tree Expert Co. district manager, explains that every spring, maple trees produce small flowers that turn into seeds. Normally, a cold frost kills some blossoms, but this year the usual chill didn't arrive at the right time. More blossoms than usual turned to seed.

Maples, which had a limited amount of stored energy at the end of winter, weren't able to produce both seeds and leaves. The trees opted for seeds over leaves, leaving some branches bare as other trees leafed out. By late June or early July, your maple should look like its normal, leafy self, Heim said. Area maples produced about 50% more seeds this spring than last year, Heim estimated. All maples, especially the silver and red varieties, have been affected, he said.
So the trees will be fine, but in the mean time that means many of the seeds that were produced will germinate where they've landed. The ample amount of rain we've had recently has certainly helped this germination.
The first strategy to control these seedlings is to rake up as many of the samaras that you can. This will keep at least some from germinating.
Once germinated, maple seeds are easy to pull by hand, it's just a bit labor intensive. This is the strategy I've taken in my landscape beds.
A non-selective herbicide, like glyphosate, can also be used just be sure to only spray on the intended seedlings as anything else it is sprayed on will also be killed. I've used this  control strategy in my larger mulched areas where few other plants are around.
My lawn is also a sea of maple seedlings but luckily these will be taken care of easily by mowing.

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