paperbark.maple1Paperbark Maple happens to be one those great trees that has not received the recognition it deserves, and as a result you just don’t see it that often.

People get in a rut with plants.  They find a comfortable selection and stick with it.  This holds true for a majority of the trade as well.  Look, I happen to use a fair amount of the “bread & butter” plants too, but when I’m visiting nurseries I have my eyes & mind open for new recruits.  If I see something different and nice, and its “form” can fit my design intent, I’m all over it. This is how you expand your plant knowledge and use.

Paperbark Maple is considered a mid-size ornamental tree.  It should grow to somewhere between 20 and 30′.  The form or shape could be described as upright-oval.  Leaves are green and trifoliate, i.e. each leaf has 3 little leaflets.  Fall color is a red, although not guaranteed to be as vibrant every year.

paperbark.maple2The Beauty’s In The Bark

As you might suspect, it’s called Paperbark Maple for a reason.  The bark on the stems and trunk begin to exfoliate (peel) after just 2 years.  And the color?…Unreal!  Beautiful, shades of brown with reddish tones, almost like a cinnamon color.  If you could imagine a fresh snowfall as a background with some of the snow sticking to the tops of the branches…it makes you really appreciate the winter landscape.

This mid-size tree is so versatile in design.  It stands alone out in the open as a specimen, or used as a grouping or grove.  Include it in a mixed garden along a border or within a foundation planting for the home.  It works in just about any design scenario.

Oh, and here’s a few other aspects of Paperbark Maple you should now. It is considered a slow grower (maybe 6″/year); it’s hardy and grows well in zones 5 to 7, and it’s rarely bothered by insects and disease.

  • Vegard
    9:29 AM, 3 October 2018

    Hello Roger,

    I purchased a red maple that was shipped to me, I was told that they would heavily prune it before shipping to optimize lateral branching. I didn’t know much about trees and pruning when I received it and planted it. It sure did start growing branches quickly this spring, but I also noticed that the top of it had been cut off. I have since learned that topping trees should only be done in rare circumstances, and I don’t think there is ever a reason to top a young maple. The leader did not grow at all, obviously, instead there are tree branches sticking up and to the sides that are all seemingly competing to become the new leader. I complained to the company and received a warranty credit, but before I take the drastic step of digging out this maple and replacing it with a new one, I want to make sure that indeed having a young maple that was topped essentially ruined the tree, right?

    • Roger
      11:52 AM, 20 October 2018

      Although it’s likely you could prune/train this young tree to develop a new leader, there remains the question whether the structure and development of this tree will be the best it can be. You may want to start with a young maple with its original leader.

  • David
    1:10 PM, 1 November 2018

    Just purchased two for my patio. How far from the patio/small border wall should I plant these? I’m concerned about root spread, but I would like some shade when mature. Thanks for your feedback.

    • Roger
      11:02 PM, 4 November 2018

      It’s smart you’re thinking of root spread with the maple. I would think 6 to 8′ from the patio would be good — probably closer to 6′ since shade is on your wish list.

      It is possible future root spread could impact your patio. You could install a root barrier. Since the maple has a more shallow root system, I would think if the barrier were 18 – 24″ wide, that would suffice.

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