Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 1229 Acer griseum

Common Names: paperbark maple Family: Aceraceae (maple Family)
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paperbark maple
Paperbark maple is a small tree suitable for small scale landscapes.
paperbark maple
The handsome peeling bark is one characteristic that contributes to the popularity of this species for bonsai.


The aptly named paperbark maple is a large shrub or small tree with highly ornamental brownish-cinnamon bark that peels and curls in thin papery flakes like the bark of a river birch (Betula nigra), only prettier. The paperbark maple has a rounded canopy and gets about 30 ft (10 m) tall with a similar spread. The leaves (opposite one another on the stems) are soft green on top and silvery bluish beneath. They are trifoliate, about 4 in (10 cm) long, and the leaflets have coarsely toothed margins. In some years they turn shades of crimson and orange in fall before dropping. The insignificant little flowers are yellowish and borne in pendant cymes. The fruits are samaras with two wings, about 1.25 in (3 cm) long.


Acer griseum is native to China.


Light: Paperbark maple likes full sun to part shade in summer when it is in leaf. In warmer climates it should get some shade. Moisture: This maple grows best in a moist but well drained soil , acidic to chalky. The soil should not dry out completely in summer, nor get waterlogged in winter. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 8. Paperbark maple may be hardy as far north as zone 4, with protection. It usually performs poorly in zone 8, and will certainly need some shade in summer. Propagation:Paperbark maple is propagated from seed. The seeds have poor viability with many being infertile. The normal method is to plant seeds in fall as soon as ripe and expect 10% or so to start germinating in two years. Vegetative propagation is even more difficult.

paperbark maple
Paperbark maple's trifoliate leaves produce a colorful autumn display.
paperbark maple
The two-winged samara's of paperbark maple are similar to those of other maple species.


Paperbark maple is grown for its distinctive and attractive bark, and its (sometimes) fall color. This is a very slow growing tree and can remain shrublike for years. Specimens over 50 years old might be no more than 20 ft (6 m) tall. This pretty little maple is best used as a patio tree, in shrub/tree borders, or as an elegant lawn specimen. It is especially attractive in winter when the exfoliating bark is most visible. Acer griseum is a popular deciduous tree for bonsai.


The little helicopter samaras are typical of maples as are the opposite leaves.

Steve Christman 11/17/14

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Acer species profiled on Floridata:

Acer buergerianum

( trident maple,three-toothed maple )

Acer campestre

( hedge maple,field maple )

Acer ginnala

( Amur maple )

Acer griseum

( paperbark maple )

Acer negundo

( boxelder, ash-leaf maple, Manitoba maple )

Acer palmatum

( Japanese maple )

Acer platanoides

( Norway maple )

Acer rubrum

( red maple, swamp maple, Carolina red maple )

Acer saccharinum

( silver maple, soft maple, white maple, river maple )

Acer saccharum

( sugar maple, rock maple, hard maple )

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