Content Detail

This attractive small- to medium-sized ornamental tree is excellent for a small area or for adding structure to a mixed perennial garden. Paper-barked maple is a great plant for four seasons. Winter and spring are highlighted with cinnamon-colored, exfoliating bark that is accentuated by light snow, while summer brings delicate leaves with a bluish cast that can turn bronze in fall. Fall color is inconsistent from year to year

  • Family (English) Soapberry (formerly Maple)
  • Family (botanic) Sapindaceae (formerly Aceraceae)
  • Planting site Residential and parks
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Small tree (15-25 feet), Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Mature height 20-30 feet
  • Mature width 10-30 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Dry sites, Road salt, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Oval, Round, Upright
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Wildlife Insect pollinators
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

Paper-barked maple is native to central China.

Bark color and texture:

This tree’s best feature is its cinnamon-colored peeling bark. 

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

The delicate foliage consists of three leaflets on a short stalk. The leaves are 3 to 6 inches long and have an opposite arrangement along the branch. Summer leaves are dark green changing to bronze or reddish in fall. Fall color is inconsistent from year to year.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

The flowers are inconspicuous.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Fruit are winged seeds in pairs (samaras). Seedlings are seldom a problem as most of the seed produced is not viable.

Plant care:

Avoid pruning maples in spring as they are ‘bleeders’ and will lose large amounts of sap. This tree tolerates clay soils and high pH.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

The fungus verticillium wilt is a potential problem for maples.


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