(Aceraceae - Maple Family)
- small ornamental tree or shade tree
- maturing at about 20' tall by 15' wide
- upright oval growth habit in youth, becoming upright rounded with age
- slow growth rate
- full sun to partial shade
- prefers moist, well-drained, rich soils that are slightly acidic, but is adaptable to a wide range of soils, soil pHs, heat, and drought
- propagated primarily by rooted stem cuttings, or by cuttings grafted onto Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) understock, as seed germination is very poor
- Maple Family, with few diseases or pests
- moderately available, either in ball and burlap or container form, and somewhat expensive, due to its slow growth rate
- opposite and compound (trifoliate) leaves are up to 6" long, with a medium green, gray-green, or blue-green color
- the three leaflets are each up to 2" long, having crenate to dentate margins
with distinctly pubescent lower surfaces, with the leaf petiole also very pubescent
- variable fall color ranges from green-chartreuse to yellow, or bronzed to reddish
- pendulous green inflorescences in May are noticeable, but not especially ornamental
- two semi-divergent (45 degree angled) winged samaras per stalk, in pendulous clusters from the twigs
- brown-red, pubescent, and becoming very exfoliating and more lightly colored on young branches
- copper, cinnamon, or orange trunk usually branches a few feet above the
ground, creating an upright multi-branched effect
- bark is very exfoliating in youth, becoming either smooth or remaining exfoliating with age
- quite eye-catching and attractive in Winter, especially if contrasted with a snowy or solid green background on sunny days
- ID Summary
- trifoliate leaves have pubescent undersides and petioles, on thin stems that give rise to exfoliating branches and beautiful, copper-orange bark on the trunks, having semi-divergent samaras and variable quality fall color, and of slow growth rate, maturing as a small ornamental tree, where the ornamental feature in this case is the bark
- specimen, focal point, large foundation, or entranceway small tree
- fine texture in foliage and medium texture when bare
- average to thick density in foliage and when bare
- exfoliating coppery bark is highly ornamental
- relatively small mature height and width
- slow growth rate
- not especially urban tolerant
- zones 5 to 8
- native to Central China
- trees with ornamental bark (Betula nigra 'Heritage', Betula papyrifera, Carpinus caroliniana, Fagus sylvatica, Ostrya virginiana, Ulmus parvifolia, Zelkova serrata, etc.)
- trees with a relatively low mature height (Acer campestre, Carpinus caroliniana, Koelreuteria paniculata, Malus, Ostrya virginiana, etc.)
- Much variability exists within the species as to bark quality (ranging
from dull brown to bright orange, and from exfoliating to smooth), cold
hardiness, and vigor, but none of these variants have been introduced as cultivars into the nursery trade.
- More selections from its native China are needed for better seed germination,
vigor, and bark quality, or hybrids with other Maples need to be introduced.
- Acer is the Latin name for Maple.
- griseum translates as "gray", probably referring to the pubescent foliage, especially when it emerges in Spring.
- Paperbark Maple is one of the best trees for ornamental bark.
- Acer griseum is a small tree valued for its ornamental coppery exfoliating bark, slow to grow and mature but an investment in the landscape for the future, and now becoming more available in the nursery trade.
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