Acer griseum - Paperbark Maple
Family: Aceraceae

Hear the scientific name

Acer griseum is a small tree valued primarily for its ornamental coppery exfoliating bark. Paperbark Maple is slow to grow and mature, but a long-term investment in the landscape. It's an excellent small tree!

F   E   A   T   U   R   E   S
  form Form

-small ornamental tree or shade tree

-maturing at about 20' tall x 15' wide

-upright oval growth habit in youth, becoming upright rounded with age

-slow growth rate

-significant variability in branching pattern can occur among the seed-derived plants; no 2 plants are exactly alike

foliage2 foliage Foliage

-opposite and compound, 3-lobed (trifoliate) leaves are up to 6" long, with a medium green, gray-green, or blue-green color

-the 3 leaflets are each up to 2" long, having crenate to dentate margins with distinctly pubescent lower surfaces and petiole

-variable autumn color ranges from yellowish-green to yellow, or bronzed to reddish; in good years, the autumn color can be spectacular


-pendulous green inflorescences in May are noticeable, but not especially ornamental


-2 semi-divergent, (45 degree angle) winged samaras per stalk, in pendulous clusters from the twigs; often quite pubescent


-brown-red, pubescent, becoming very exfoliating and more lightly colored on young branches

trunk2 trunk Trunk

-copper, cinnamon, or orange trunk usually branches a few feet above the ground, creating an upright multi-branched effect

-bark is exfoliating in youth, either becoming smooth or remaining exfoliating with age; very noticeable and attractive in winter, especially if contrasted with a snowy or solid green background on sunny days

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-full sun to partial shade

-quite adaptable to a wide range of soils, soil pHs, heat, and drought

-few diseases or pests affect this species

-moderately available (propagation is rather difficult), either in B&B or container form, and somewhat expensive, due to its slow growth rate


-zones 5 to 8


-native to Central China

U   S   A   G   E


-exfoliating coppery bark is highly ornamental

-autumn color can be vivid red

-relatively small mature height and width


-slow growth rate

-marginally hardy in zone 5, especially in exposed areas


-specimen, focal point, large foundation, or entranceway small tree


-fine texture in foliage; medium texture when bare

-average to thick density in foliage and when bare

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-trees with ornamental bark (Betula nigra Heritage® ['Cully'], Betula papyrifera, Carpinus caroliniana, Ostrya virginiana, Ulmus parvifolia, Zelkova serrata, etc.)

-trees with a relatively low mature height (Acer campestre, Carpinus caroliniana, Koelreuteria paniculata, Malus, Ostrya virginiana, etc.)


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