Paperbark Maple seems to be on everyone’s favorite list for small interesting trees. This is a perfect small tree with incredibly interesting coppery, curling, and flaking bark, and small trifoliate (3 part) leaves. Fall color can be from bronze to russet red to bright red, especially if you get a hybrid. It is very slow growing, and most seem to have their own unique form. Although periodically used as a street and parking lot tree, they must have well draining soils to prosper in these tough locations. Otherwise, they never reach close to their full potential. They can grow in full sun, but are more than happy to be a little protected from the full brunt of sunlight and wind.
Most available Paperbark Maples are still grown from seedlings, and the variability in branch structure and form can be frustrating for the grower, as well as the buyer. For street trees, you must specify branch height and specimen form. However, in the right location, a clump form can be especially appealing. They are exceptional as accent trees on corners, or street locations with limited above and below ground space. They are considered utility friendly trees because of their limited height. Interesting, though, it can grow to be a very large tree in its native habitat in China
There is occasional dieback, most likely from a late frost or possible drought stress, but once established, they usually continue to perform very well. They transplant fairly easily, but as always, don’t let them dry out. Cultivars are being developed, and those most noted in the trade are ‘Gingerbread’ and ‘Cinnamon Flake’. You will pay more for all Paperbark maples for the reasons mentioned, but they are typically worth it.
Please let me know any experiences you have had with this tree.
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