Tree of the Week: Three-Flowered Maple

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  The three-flowered maple continues to grow and thrive in my backyard and the more I see it planted at the Secrest Arboretum in Wooster, at the High Line Park in New York City, and elsewhere, the more I enjoy this tree. This Asian maple will become a small to medium-sized  tree (20-25 feet). Like its cousin paperbark maple, it has exfoliating bark but the bark is not as papery or with the cinnamon color of Acer griseum.


Bark of three flowered maple


  Leaves have trifoliate leaflets, with leaves oppositely arranged on the twigs, as with all maples. Flowers are arranged in three as the name suggests. In the Chatscape in northeast Ohio, a three-flowered maple bought at the Secrest Arboretum Plant Discovery Day sale is about fifteen feet tall and eight feet wide despite a little over a decade of neglect, with a somewhat sprawling form and soft foliage at emergence and through the season and with spectacular orange-red fall color.   


Soft foliage of three flowered maple


  Acer triflorum is the winner of many landscape design awards throughout the world for its multi-season appeal of bark and foliage characteristics, and is something you should try in your specimen garden. According to the National Arboretum website, plant explorer Ernest Wilson found Acer triflorum on the Korean peninsula in 1917 on a plant exploration trip and described it as “perhaps the best find of the trip.” Plant in well-drained soil. And enjoy its nuances, from springtime speckled bud scales to world-class fall color.


Speckled buds of three flowered maple