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Paperbark Maple Acer griseum

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
AY-ser grih-SAY-um
Description

Paperbark maple is a small, deciduous tree in the Sapindaceae (maple) family. It grows 20 to 30 feet tall and 15 to 25 feet wide casting light shade below its canopy. Its most striking feature is its exfoliating bark which starts out as cinnamon-brown to reddish-brown but takes on a purple-brown color. 

This hardy plant prefers sun to partial shade, with moist, well-drained soil.  It will grow in a variety of soil types, but is not drought tolerant. It can tolerate clay soils and is adaptable to a variety of pH levels. Balled and burlapped and containerized plants transplant well in the spring.  This species has an upright-oval to oval habit and, with age, the tree has a certain dignity.  Its red-orange fall foliage color is poor in the south.  Propagation is difficult by seed and cuttings, but young stems are the easiest to root.   It has wide seedling variability so to maintain the features of the parent plant asexual propagation is recommended.  

Children love the exfoliating bark so plant it where they can marvel at the ever changing texture.  It makes an excellent specimen in a winter garden, in a woodland margin or near a patio or courtyard.  This is a popular bonsai tree. 

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leaves compound, trifoliolate
  • Conspicuous pubescent petiole & lower vein axils
  • Exfoliating bark
  • Buds: 3-7 mm, brownish-black, sharply pointed, scales imbricate.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious insect or disease problems.

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Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#hardy#deciduous#small tree#shade tree#small spaces#interesting bark#wildlife plant#moths#bonsai#winter interest#fall interest#street tree#playground#nighttime garden#children's garden#courtyard garden#fantz#larval host plant#exfoliating bark#patio planting#bird friendly#fall color red#fall color orange#moth larvae#pollinator garden#woodland garden#imperial moth
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#hardy#deciduous#small tree#shade tree#small spaces#interesting bark#wildlife plant#moths#bonsai#winter interest#fall interest#street tree#playground#nighttime garden#children's garden#courtyard garden#fantz#larval host plant#exfoliating bark#patio planting#bird friendly#fall color red#fall color orange#moth larvae#pollinator garden#woodland garden#imperial moth
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Acer
    Species:
    griseum
    Family:
    Sapindaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central China
    Wildlife Value:
    Members of the genus Acer support Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) larvae which have one brood per season and appear from April-October in the south. Adult Imperial Moths do not feed.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Pieces Used in Games
    Textural
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 20 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Oval
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Samara
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    A schizocarp of two samaras, 1 1/2" long, wings divergent and with unusually large seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Insignificant
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Ornamentally insignificant flowers bloom from April-May.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    3"- 6" opposite, palmately compound trifoliate leaves. The middle leaflet is short-stalked. Silvery with fine hairs on the underside; bright red and orange fall color; one of the last maples to develop fall color; leaves persist into winter. Conspicuous pubescent petiole & lower vein axils.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Papery
    Peeling
    Bark Description:
    Extremely ornamental peels of bark that remain on the tree instead of falling to the ground. Purple-brown outer bark peels back in papery curls to reveal rose-brown inner bark.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Brown to reddish brown. Buds < 1/4", brownish-black, sharply pointed, scales imbricate.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Patio
    Pool/Hardscape
    Recreational Play Area
    Small Space
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Shade Tree
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Songbirds