Acer griseum
Common Name: paperbark maple
Type: Tree
Family: Sapindaceae
Native Range: Central China
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Clay Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, slightly acidic, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, well-drained soils. Intolerant of drought. Propagation is difficult (approximately 95% of seed produced is not viable). Woody cuttings are difficult to root, but juvenile cuttings are easier to root.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Acer griseum, commonly called paperbark maple, is a small, deciduous, oval to oval-rounded tree with slender upright branching. It is particularly noted for its exfoliating copper orange to cinnamon reddish/brown bark and its showy orange to red fall color. It typically matures to 20-30 (40)’ tall. It is native to mixed forests in central China. Bark on the trunk and limbs is extremely ornamental because it peels into large curls which remain on the tree rather that falling to the ground, often in attractive contrast to the tan to rose-brown inner bark. Each trifoliate leaf (3-5” long) features three coarsely toothed leaflets, with the middle leaflet being short-stalked. Leaves are green above, but frosty blue-green to gray-green with fine hairs beneath. Fall color varies, typically ranging from showy shades of orange and red to less spectacular shades of reddish-green to bronze green. Ornamentally insignificant yellowish flowers bloom in April-early May in clusters (drooping cymes to 1” long) on pendulous downy stalks. Flowers give way to winged samaras (to 1 1/4” long) with unusually large seeds.

E. H. (“Chinese”) Wilson brought this tree from China to England in 1899. It was introduced in the U. S. shortly thereafter by the Arnold Arboretum.

Genus name is the Latin name for maple tree.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word griseus meaning gray in reference to color of the leaf undersides.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Excellent small tree for small properties. Deserves a location where its ornamental features can be appreciated (near a deck or patio). Appropriate as an understory tree in a woodland garden or as a specimen in many locations around the home. Popular bonsai subject, particularly in Europe.