PAPER BARK MAPLE
Pronounced: AY-ser GRISS-ee-um
Sunset zones: 2-9, 14-21.
USDA zones: 4-8.
Heat zones: 8-1.
Height: 25 feet (7.5 m).
Width: 20 feet (6 m).
Bluish-green, 3-lobed palmate leaves, undersides are gray, foliage turns red in fall.
Moist, well-drained soil, although this maple tolerates clay soils.
The seed of this maple is notoriously difficult to propagate, as the seed viability is usually 1-8% viable. Even if the seed germinates, the root has a difficult time getting through the seed wall.
Root cuttings from seedlings are the easiest way to cultivate this maple.
Prune to shape in late fall to winter.
Pests and Diseases:
No serious pests or diseases.
Rainy Side Notes
Imagine a sunny winter day; a leafless, bare maple tree stands in front of the waning sunlight in the garden, its peeling bark glistening, translucent in the sun. It's Acer griseum, commonly called the paper bark maple, a remarkable specimen tree for almost any garden in any season.
The trifoliate leaf is a handsome feature of this maple. The foliage turns bronze and red in autumn, following its summer clothes of bluish-green leaves with a complementary gray underneath. Its epithet, griseum, means gray, so named after the hue of the lower leaf surface. However, the exfoliating, cinnamon-brown bark is the maple's most outstanding feature.
The upright spreading tree with a rounded crown is slow growing, but eventually reaches 30 feet tall in about 50 years. There are variations in the way A. griseum's bark exfoliates, resulting in some trunks possessing more visual charm. Even young tree trunks peel their bark. Where possible, select your tree in person and choose the most appealing one.
Site this specimen tree where you can appreciate the bark year round. Do not plant within 15 feet of power lines. To extend fall color in the garden, use this maple because it is one of the last to turn color.
In the Pacific Northwest, it was chosen as a Great Plant Pick.
Top photo photographed in Lisa Albert's garden in Portland, Oregon. All others photographed at Valley Nursery, Poulsbo, Washington.