ACER GRISEUM - Paperbark Maple

Peeling bark from the paperbark Maple' - Acer griseum
The paperbark Maple' - Acer griseum

Commonly know as the 'Paperbark Maple'. Acer griseum, is arguably one of the most beautiful of all small trees - let alone all acer species and cultivars! Native to the central Chinese provinces of Gansu, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Shaanxi, Shaanxi and Sichuan, Acer griseum was first collected by French missionary Père Paul Farges and the Irish plantsman Augustine Henry.

It is a deciduous species with a spreading habit, originally described by Adrien Franchet in 1894 as a variety of Acer nikoense. It was subsequently recollected and introduced to cultivation in Europe in 1901 by notable English plant collector Ernest Henry 'Chinese' Wilson (1876–1930). Its present name was attributed by German botanist Ferdinand Albin Pax (1858–1942) in 1902.

In its native habitat Acer griseum can reach a height of up to approximately 20 metres. However this is considerably less in European cultivation, where you can be expected to achieve a height of 6–9 metres with a canopy width of 5–6 metres. The leaves are trifoliate, dark green above and a bright glaucous blue-green beneath. Depending on conditions, they will often display an attractive red and scarlet autumn colour before leaf-drop in the autumn.

The yellow flowers are produced on pendulous downy stalks in the spring and are few and far between. Pale-brown, paired, winged-fruits (known as samaras) follow.

Acer griseum is best noted for its ornamental reddish-brown bark which on mature specimens will peel away in small sheets to reveal a cinnamon-coloured under-bark.

It will be happy grown in either full sun or semi-shade on most moist, but well-drained soils.

Acer griseum received the Award of Merit in 1922 and the Award of Garden Merit in 1984 from the Royal Horticultural Society.

Main image credit - By Photo by and (c)2007 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man). Co-attribution must be given to the Chanticleer Garden. - Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1996014

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