Acer griseum

Paperbark Maple
Binomial:Acer griseum
Type:Small tree
Shade cast:Light
Fruit type and season:Samaras, ripening in late autumn
Light requirements:Full sun to part shade
Water requirements:Drought tolerant
USDA Hardiness Zone:4-8
Propagation:Cuttings or seed
Pruning season:mid-spring or early autumn
Transplant:Transplants well
Pest issues:uncommon
Disease issues:uncommon

Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) is a species of maple native to central China. It was introduced to cultivation in Europe in 1901 by Ernest Henry Wilson for Veitch Nurseries, and to North America shortly after. The tree grows very slowly, so if being planted as a shade tree, large stock should be used.

Description edit

It is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree, reaching 10-18 m tall, and has smooth, shiny orange-red bark, which peels in thin, papery layers (mature bark is platy and brightly metallic-copper in color). The leaves are compound, with three leaflets, each 4-10 cm long and 2-6 cm broad, dark green above, bright glaucous blue-green beneath. The petioles and young stems are pubescent. The flowers are produced in small corymbs in spring, the fruit being a pair of winged samaras with the seeds about 1 cm long and a 3 cm wing. Young trees are upright, eventually developing a rounded habit.

Emerging foliage is copper-colored, fall color is bright red, in late season.

Ecology edit

Some specimens will produce prolific seedlings in the garden, but due to the slow growth it is unlikely to become invasive.

Uses edit


Paperbark Maple is widely grown as an ornamental plant in temperate regions. It is admired for its decorative exfoliating bark, translucent pieces of which stay attached to the branches until worn away. It also has spectacular autumn color which can include red, orange and pink tones.

Deep, well-drained soils are recommended, as unlike many other maples its roots run well below the surface.

Recent attempts have been made to acquire new seed stock from wild populations in China because it is believed that the current gene pool of cultivated specimens is very small. Propagation of Acer griseum is somewhat difficult as seeds have parthenocaptic tendencies.[1]

Pests and diseases edit

Pest and disease issues are rare in the garden. See Acer for a discussion of pest and disease problems affecting maples in general.

Due to the slow growth of seedlings, nursery stock often has problems with wrapping roots, which can lead to girdling later on if not addressed early.

References edit

  • Bean, W. J. (1970). Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles, 8th ed, revised. John Murray.
  • Rushforth, K. D. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. HarperCollins.
  1. Maples for Gardens: A Color Encyclopedia by C.J. van Gelderen & D.M. van Gelderen, 1999