Paperbark maple, Acer griseum, was not an instant hit with me. In the ’90’s I only knew them from planting young trees with Friends of Trees. Like a lot of young trees, they didn’t make much of an impression on me. It seemed to me that it was on the late end of leafing out in the spring, losing leaves early in the fall and leaving me with nothing to focus on but its odd peeling bark for a good many months.
But as those young trees have grown up, my perspective has changed a bit. Maybe the newly establishing trees were stressed and dropped their leaves early. Colors have shifted from red to brown this last week, but plenty of paperbark maples around the neighborhood have leaves still clinging in late November. The fall color is pretty.
The brightly colored exfoliating bark is considered an ornamental feature, but it reminds me of peeling sunburned skin.
Here’s a handsome front yard tree.
And a close up of the summer foliage.
Acer griseum details from Oregon State University
- Slow growing to 20-30 feet, deciduous tree with red exfoliating bark
- USDA Zones 4 to 8
- Native to Central China
- Full sun to part shade
- Prefers well-drained, moist soils, but adaptable