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The shaggy peeling bark and glorious yellow, orange, and red fall foliage make up for the inconspicuous nature of this ornamental tree’s namesake flowers. Three-flowered maple is a fine specimen tree for gardens, with a habit that can be upright or spreading.

  • Family (English) Soapberry (formerly Maple)
  • Family (botanic) Sapindaceae (formerly Aceraceae)
  • Planting site Residential and parks, Under utility lines
  • 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 20-30 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Dry sites, Road salt
  • Season of interest early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Oval, Upright
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well Moderate
  • Planting considerations May be difficult to find in nurseries
  • Has cultivars No

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Three-flowered maple is native to Northeastern Asia.

Bark color and texture: 

The light brown bark exfoliates in vertical strips to show golden-brown inner bark, which provides an interesting winter feature.

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

The simple leaves are arranged in pairs (opposite), each leaf with three leaflets and irregularly toothed margins. Foliage is dark green in summer, turning brilliant yellow, orange, and red in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Greenish-yellow flowers appear in April in clusters of three, hence the species and common names.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Fruit are winged seeds in pairs (samaras), which are 1 inch long and fuzzy.

Plant care:

Avoid pruning in early spring as maples are ‘bleeders’ and will lose large amounts of sap.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

 Verticillium wilt (fungus) is a potential problem for maples.


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