Norway Maple which is being attacked by a woodpecker

(Question)

I have a Norway Maple that I have pruned over the year to raise its canopy. These scars are the areas which the woodpecker is now attacking. Wonder if my tree is healthy? It also has black circles on the leaves for a number of years.

 

(Answer)

Woodpeckers are generally attracted to dead wood and tree cavities as they go in search of insects and for nesting purposes. Most trees will have deadwood naturally occurring so a sight of a woodpecker does not necessarily means trouble. Having said that, look for signs of insects or leaf changes in colour, texture or dropping early than usual which could mean that the tree is not healthy.

Sapsuckers on the other hand will attack healthy trees in search of sap. Their injuries can cause wood decay and attract insects and diseases to harvest and weaken the tree.

The Black spots that appear in late spring/summer are tar spots, which are a fungal disease unsightly, but common to Norway Maples an will not harm your tree. They are particular prominent during wet periods. Although they will not affect your tree, the spores survive the winter on the leaves in the ground and cleaning, and disposing of these leaves in the fall is a good practise to reduce the spread of the fungi.

For further information on Tar Spots, refer to the following factsheet from Cornell University: https://plantclinic.cornell.edu/factsheets/tarspotofmaple.pdf