Acer Griseum - Paper Bark Maple.
A superb small multi-branched tree, grown for spectacular peeling
bark - Acer griseum, the Chinese Paperbark Maple. It can be grown as a
large shrub, either at the back of a border or as a feature in a
bed of shrubs or perennials. The
bark peels away into small flakes which hang on the branches but do not
hide the colourful orange-brown bark underneath. This welcome
bark-peeling event happens when little else vies for attention, making
it all the more welcome.
Foliage effect in Autumn
- Whilst the uncommon peeling paper bark is the talked-about
feature, the foliage colour in the autumn is as spectacular as that
of the family group of maples - even though it is a Chinese, rather
than Japanese maple. According to
your type of soil, it can either be flame red or rich golden yellow
– or of course any of the orange foliage shades in between.
Acid soils of a sandy
silt nature tend to provide the red foliage, whilst heavier clay
type soils will enlighten your dark autumn days with golden foliage.
The amount of sunlight also has a bearing upon autumn leaf colour.
Unlike the Japanese Maples, this Chinese Paper-bark Maple is happy in
full sun – also in dappled shade. I sometimes get emails from gardeners
worrying about the tree not leafing up in the spring. It is late
producing leaf, which is fine for it allows a longer spell of admiring
the peeling bark flakes!
For the spring and summer months the foliage is dark green – but not
oppressive – with each leaf being 3-lobed palmate leaves, long ovate in
shape and around 4-5in (10cm) long.
Pruning is not necessary for this small tree. It should be planted in
correct position - allowing for an ultimate height and spread of approx.
4-5 metres across with age. Growth rate is slow, so ultimate height will
be in ten years or so. The paper bark maple is ideal as small tree in
confined gardens or large shrub if grown multi-stemmed.
The flowers, though not abundant, are attractive pendant racemes if
light yellow, which in turn are followed by the typical winged seeds
which spiral off to a resting place nearby – depending upon strength of
of Paper Bark Maple.
- Don’t be too ambitious in collecting the seed, for they are not
the best at germinating. Far better to note where the land and be
patient until the following late spring when you might find a few
seedlings. A plus point being that the Acer griseum seedlings will
come true to form of the parent.
If you consider yourself a good
propagator, it is possible to grow young Acers from
in late spring or early summer.
Pruning of Acer griseum
- Pruning is rarely required – other than removing any die-back
after initial planting. Any pruning that needs to be done is best
carried out after leaf fall in autumn. Late winter or spring pruning
will lead to heavy bleeding of sap, making it difficult for the
pruning cut to heal and also weaken the tree.
Good plants for association
- Under-planting with low growing variegated evergreens – such as
Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ or Euonymus ‘Emerald m’ Gold’ will give a
good associated effect during most months. For something a little
different, try a group of assorted
silver grey foliage and lime yellow flowers. Larger areas would look
quite stunning if planted in association with
Shrubs main section