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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 Medium tree (25-40 feet), Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Mature height 20-30 feet
  • Mature width 20-30 feet
  • Light exposure Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily), 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
  • 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: 

Native to Northeastern Asia.

Bark color and texture: 

The light brown bark exfoliates in vertical strips to show golden-brown inner bark.  This 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; margins irregularly toothed.  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);  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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