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Denver maple seeds

Digging deeper Plant Library

This is a very hardy variety which thrives well in dry conditions and urban pollution; a strong upright growth habit with a showy display of red and orange in the fall; a great landscape or street tree

Bigtooth Maple is primarily valued in the landscape for its ornamental upright and spreading habit of growth. It has dark green deciduous foliage. The glossy lobed leaves turn outstanding shades of orange and red in the fall. The furrowed gray bark adds an interesting dimension to the landscape.

Bigtooth Maple is a deciduous tree with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.

This is a relatively low maintenance tree, and should only be pruned in summer after the leaves have fully developed, as it may ‘bleed’ sap if pruned in late winter or early spring. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Bigtooth Maple is recommended for the following landscape applications;

Bigtooth Maple will grow to be about 25 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 25 feet. It has a high canopy with a typical clearance of 7 feet from the ground, and should not be planted underneath power lines. As it matures, the lower branches of this tree can be strategically removed to create a high enough canopy to support unobstructed human traffic underneath. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 80 years or more.

This tree does best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers to grow in average to moist conditions, and shouldn’t be allowed to dry out. It is not particular as to soil type, but has a definite preference for acidic soils, and is subject to chlorosis (yellowing) of the foliage in alkaline soils. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This species is native to parts of North America.

A tale of two gorgeous maples. sad but true!

Everyone should have a hero. Scott Skogerboe has always been one of mine: Head of propagation at Fort Collins Nursery Wholesale, he and his boss, Gary Epstein have been the force behind most of the woody plant introductions of Plant Select. Here he is standing in front of. well. you shall have to wait and see (I have my crafty ways of making you read all the way to the bottom of my blog posting!).

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Amur maple at Box Store

This is NOT the same maple as the one with Scott above–this is an Amur Maple (Acer ginnala) I photographed today (October 20) on West Colfax in front of a Box Store which I am NOT endorsing (although I confess I did by 50 of awesome plants while I was there. ). As the name suggests, Amur maples originate in the Amur river region of East Asia, the river that separates Manchuria from Siberia. No wonder the tree is so cold hardy! But that area is also Maritime–and the soils are podzoils: generally acid, more like the soils of our upper Midwest and New England. So of course, Amur maples in Denver are frequently chlorotic, and usually not recommended by horticulturists “in the know”. No one bothered to tell the landscape architects, who filled the vast parking lot of this box store with them–and each and every one of them are blazing in DIFFERENT colors, and looking mighty healthy!

A whole ROW of frickin’ amurs

Here you can see bits and pieces of a half dozen Amur maples in blazing color—looked like a regular conflagration! Each was robust, and each a very different shade of flaming red and orange (and some yellow and one or two green–this picture doesn’t show them quite right–I’ll show some closeups to better demonstrate a wonderful quality that is being increasingly denied people: namely, the wonderful biodiversity and variability that comes with seed grown plants.

Although most of these maples were an unalloyed scarlet-vermilion, one was more orange-yellow in tint.

Green leafed Amur

Right alongside all the red ones, one had barely begun to turn and was still mostly green

Bright vermilion Amur Maple

But of the several dozen Amur maples around the parking lot, most were this flagrant, bracing, wonderful red color that we all love so much in the species. I have seen dozens of Amur maples all around Denver looking this good–there are some massive ones near Denver Botanic Gardens (and I have a pretty awesome specimen in my own garden too–hee hee). but for every stunning Amur maple, there are usually a few gnarly, miserable things that look awful year around and hardly color up in fall. I have a hunch some of these are simply inferior plants, and others are probably growing in particularly bad sites with more alkaline soils, perhaps, or other environmental problems. Here, you should generate a drum roll and have the summon the cavalry with trumpets! Woo hooo!

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Acer tataricum at Fort Collins Nursery Wholesale

Last Friday, while visiting Scott at Fort Collins Nursery Wholesale, I espied a furiously red small tree in the distance–the same one pictured at the beginning of this posting with Scott standing in front. This is a superb, red-fall coloring Tatarian Maple–a sib to the Plant Select Introduction, Acer tataricum Hot WingsTM. I have observed around town that Hot Wings Maple has been quite reliable about turning a wonderful reddish purple color in most sites. And since it is a selection of Acer tataricum, it will thrive in far more alkaline pedocal soils (“Tatarian” refers to “Tatary”–the archaic term used for “Turkestan”, the designation for the portions of Czarist Russia in Central Asia–namely contemporary Kazakhstan, Kirghistan, Uzbekistan and the smaller neighboring “stans” that are now mostly independent states, but formerly parts of Russia and the Soviet Union. Mike Bone and I found Acer tataricum several times in Kazakhstan–many of them with the bright red samaras much like the Plant Select clone.

And here’s the rub–you can go to almost any nursery in Colorado (in fact around the United States, Canada and Europe as well) and find Hot Wings in several convenient sizes–which you can purchase and plant in your garden and get not only spectacular fall color, but a shapely small tree the rest of the year which has brilliant red fruits for much of the summer–which look as bright and dazzling as flowers for an extended period: it is apt to thrive for you on acid or alkaline soils, and once established in Colorado thrives with almost no supplemental irrigation: what’s not to love?

One of the great ironies of Colorado horticulture is that the ultimate seedsman (Scott Skogerboe) has also developed a number of clonal plants that will one day greatly outnumber the millions of seedlings he has grown in streetscapes and gardens around the world. Such are the ironies of our crazy modern world.

A piece of me wishes we could have developed a seed strain of red-winged maples so we could enjoy the wonderful biodiversity that thrilled me earlier today at Home Depot as I wandered through the Amur maples (imagining what they must look like in their native habitat right now, with the last few Siberian Tigers slinking through them nearby)–wait! What was that orange flash I caught out of the corner of my eye!? For a brief second I felt like Derzu Uzala (you must rent this dazzling Kurosawa classic if you’ve not seen it yet) and a moist Siberian breeze caressed my cheek.

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Colorado State University

Contact your local county Extension office through our County Office List.

1733 – Maple Trees

Maple trees have long been a mainstay in the urban landscape. Some older maple varieties can be problematic, however, some new varieties look very promising.

What is the most common maple tree?

By far, the silver maple is the most common maple found in the urban landscape because it grows quickly. This tree performs poorly in heavy alkaline clay soils because it is often plagued by iron chlorosis.

What maple trees do well in sandy soil?

Silver maples will grow well in loamy soil with neutral pH or a sandy soil. Silver maples are soft wooded and break easily in storms. They become susceptible to rot as they age which may cause the tree to fall apart.

What trees are more suited to Colorado?

  • Norway maples are hard wooded and less susceptible to storm damage. The leaves are very dark green in color. The tree has a rounded crown which casts a dense shade. If planted in a dry or hot site, the leaves will scorch in the summer heat. Several popular varieties selected for spring and summer leaf color include Deborah, Schwedler and Royal Red.
  • Autumn Blaze maple is a new hybrid that is very popular. It is a cross between red and silver maples. It is fast growing, but does suffer some from iron chlorosis. Fall color is a stunning orange to red.
  • Amur or ginnala maple is another maple suitable for small areas. It has beautiful red, orange or yellow fall color. It is not as well adapted to Colorado because it suffers from iron and other nutrient deficiencies resulting in yellow summer foliage.
  • Tatarian maple is recommended for smaller areas as the mature size is 20 feet tall. The tree has red, winged seeds and very attractive orange to yellow fall color. It can be grown as a large multi-stemmed shrub or small tree.

For more information, see the following Colorado State University Extension fact sheet(s).