The light green, three-fingered leaves and bright reddish-pink veins of Amur maples are pretty enough to stand out in summer’s forests, and in fall they get even more spectacular, with beautiful bright red seeds and red or orange leaves. In spring, aromatic yellow-white flowers appear. These small trees have been popular since they were introduced to the U.S. about 150 years ago. They tolerate bitter cold, summer heat, heavy pruning, road salt, a variety of soils, and some shade. But concealed in their tough nature is a fatal flaw: a love of travel. They’re considered invasive in the Midwest and Northeast.
Common name: Amur maple
Botanical name: Acer tataricum subsp. ginnala (syn. Acer ginnala)
Plant type: Deciduous shrub or small tree
Zones: 3 to 8
Height: 15 to 30 feet
• Sun: Full sun to part shade; full sun brings out best fall color.
• Soil: Average, well-drained
• Moisture: Medium
• Mulch: Mulch to preserve soil moisture.
• Pruning: Tends to have multiple trunks but can be pruned to just one.
• Fertilizer: None needed.
• By seed
Pests and diseases
• Vulnerable to branch cankers, fungal leaf spots, and root rots.
• Common pests include scale insects, aphids, caterpillars, and mites.
• Use Amur maple as a specimen or shade tree or to form a hedge or screen.
• The mature shape of an Amur maple depends largely on how it’s pruned.
• Be sure to check with your local university extension service or Department of Natural Resources to find out if Amur maple is invasive in your area.
All in the family
• Aceraceae, the maple family, contains only two genera and about 150 species, most of them maples. Maples are found in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and Central America.
• The Amur maple’s native range is China, Manchuria, and Japan.
(Text by Elizabeth Noll, photo of Acer tataricum subsp. ginnala by Tracy Walsh)