Paperbark Maple – Interesting All Year Long

Plantings · Written by Roger

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paperbark.maple1Paperbark Maple happens to be one those great trees that has not received the recognition it deserves, and as a result you just don’t see it that often.

People get in a rut with plants.  They find a comfortable selection and stick with it.  This holds true for a majority of the trade as well.  Look, I happen to use a fair amount of the “bread & butter” plants too, but when I’m visiting nurseries I have my eyes & mind open for new recruits.  If I see something different and nice, and its “form” can fit my design intent, I’m all over it. This is how you expand your plant knowledge and use.

Paperbark Maple is considered a mid-size ornamental tree.  It should grow to somewhere between 20 and 30′.  The form or shape could be described as upright-oval.  Leaves are green and trifoliate, i.e. each leaf has 3 little leaflets.  Fall color is a red, although not guaranteed to be as vibrant every year.

paperbark.maple2The Beauty’s In The Bark

As you might suspect, it’s called Paperbark Maple for a reason.  The bark on the stems and trunk begin to exfoliate (peel) after just 2 years.  And the color?…Unreal!  Beautiful, shades of brown with reddish tones, almost like a cinnamon color.  If you could imagine a fresh snowfall as a background with some of the snow sticking to the tops of the branches…it makes you really appreciate the winter landscape.

This mid-size tree is so versatile in design.  It stands alone out in the open as a specimen, or used as a grouping or grove.  Include it in a mixed garden along a border or within a foundation planting for the home.  It works in just about any design scenario.

Oh, and here’s a few other aspects of Paperbark Maple you should now. It is considered a slow grower (maybe 6″/year); it’s hardy and grows well in zones 5 to 7, and it’s rarely bothered by insects and disease.

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