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Common Name

Paperbark maple

Scientific Name

Acer griseum (Franchet) Pax (Sapindaceae, Sapindales)

Inventory Numbers: 646 718

The Paper bark maple (Acer griseum) was brought from Europe toNorth America around 1907but is native to central China. It is a small to medium-sizeddeciduous ornamental tree. It is named for its shiny orange-red bark peeling in thin papery layers. The paper bark maple has compound leaveswith trifoliate toothed long leaflets turning orange, red or reddish-green in the fall. The winged samaras with large seeds look a like those on a Norway maple tree. The paperbark maple often grows multiple trunks, even branching quite close to the ground. This gives it a vase-shaped, sculptured appearance, particularly after leaf fall in the winter. Discovered by Ernest H Wilson in 1901 and almost immediately became a garden favorite. Acer is the Latin name for “maple”; the specific epithet come from the Latin griseus, meaning “gray.

Specimen Provenance:

Common name: Paperbark Maple

Species Origin: Central China

New Jersey Status: USDA Unreported

Habit: Small tree of 20 – 30’ tall x 15 – 25’ wide.

Habitat: Zones 5 – 7. Mountain woods.

Trunk/Stem: Bark reddish to pale, cinnamon-brown, peeling in thin papery flakes.

Leaves: Deciduous, Trifoliate Compound, Opposite. Compound with three elliptical leaflets each with several large blunt teeth on each side; the central leaflet is 4” long and 2” wide with short rachis; lateral leaflets are sessile. The petiole of the leaf is distinctly pubescent. The blade is dark green above; blue-white and pubescent below turning red in autumn.

Flowers: Monoecious. Greenish yellow. Few or solitary on long pedicel, 1”long, drooping clusters; pubescent peduncles. Blooming in late spring.

Fruits and seeds: Paired samaras, app. 90o spread.

Not familiar with the word samara? Samara refers to the winged fruit of trees like the elm, ash, and maple. It looks like a key that winds up clocks or toys, and its unique shape enables it to spin like a helicopter’s rotor and drift away from its tree. In Latin, Samara just means “seed of the elm.”Its shedding bark and trifoliate leaves are distinctive.