Maple Tree – Planted Too Deep
Q: Near the ground on a young maple tree trunk there is an amorphous black shape. It looks like soot. This tree is one of a pair and is not as green or as large as the other that was planted at the same time about 2 years ago.
A: Sadly, the tree was planted too deep originally and it will probably die.
I’ve seen numerous examples of this in the past few years. When a tree is planted, you should be able to see the “flare” of the trunk where it enters the ground.
When the flare is buried, destructive fungi contained in wet soil begin attacking the bark and then the trunk. I think I see vertical bark cracks above the blackened area, showing where the damage has spread upward.
You can try excavating the soil around the trunk to dry it out but this usually doesn’t help the situation.