The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two Hardy and Beautiful Trifoliate Maples

Acer griseum x 'Gingerbread'

Acer triflorum

The trifoliate maples, Acer griseum, Acer mandshuricum, Acer nikoense and Acer triflorum, are refined 20-30 foot tall trees that originate from Japan, China and Korea. They offer varying degrees of exfoliating bark and excellent fall color. Acer triflorum is used as a street tree in my garden and is past peak but some of the bright burnt orange foliage, which rivals the best sugar maples cultivars, remains.

Acer griseum x 'Gingerbread' is a cross of the best known trifoliate, Acer griseum, and the less common Acer nikoense. It is the last of this family of trees to color. It will peak in a week or so and will climax with a pronounced russet-red color. 'Gingerbread' has the increased vigor of a hybrid. It is a much faster growing tree than Acer griseum and is a full zone hardier to Zone 4. I have used 'Gingerbread' as a patio tree near the terrace. Even after I planted the 10 foot tall gangly sapling in 1998, the terrace was compltely sunny. Now, twelve years later, the ugly duckling has turned into an elegant swan, and I have to limit the plants on most of the terrace to shade/part shade lovers.

I chose the trifoliate trees for their scale (they will never become too large for my small garden) and their distinctive characteristics which feel entirely at home in New Hampshire. The orange and red foliage are indistinguishable from the autumn hues of the red and sugar maples that are so common here.

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