Sugar maple and red maple are closely-related co-occurring tree species significant to the North American forest biome. Plant abiotic stress effects including nutritional imbalance and manganese (Mn) toxicity are well documented within this system, and are implicated in enhanced susceptibility to biotic stresses such as insect attack. Both tree species are known to overaccumulate foliar manganese (Mn) when growing on unbuffered acidified soils, however, sugar maple is Mn-sensitive, while red maple is not. Currently there is no knowledge about the cellular sequestration of Mn and other nutrients in these two species. Here, electron-probe x-ray microanalysis was employed to examine cellular and sub-cellular deposition of excessively accumulated foliar Mn and other mineral nutrients in vivo. For both species, excess foliar Mn was deposited in symplastic cellular compartments. There were striking between-species differences in Mn, magnesium (Mg), sulphur (S) and calcium (Ca) distribution patterns. Unusually, Mn was highly co-localised with Mg in mesophyll cells of red maple only. The known sensitivity of sugar maple to excess Mn is likely linked to Mg deficiency in the leaf mesophyll. There was strong evidence that Mn toxicity in sugar maple is primarily a symplastic process. For each species, leaf-surface damage due to biotic stress including insect herbivory was compared between sites with acidified and non-acidified soils. Although it was greatest overall in red maple, there was no difference in biotic stress damage to red maple leaves between acidified and non-acidified soils. Sugar maple trees on buffered non-acidified soil were less damaged by biotic stress compared to those on unbuffered acidified soil, where they are also affected by Mn toxicity abiotic stress. This study concluded that foliar nutrient distribution in symplastic compartments is a determinant of Mn sensitivity, and that Mn stress hinders plant resistance to biotic stress.