SCIENTIFIC NAME: Acer platanoides
This tree in Colorado Not as widely used here as in other parts of the country, where it has been overplanted. It is more tolerant of heat, drought and alkaline clay soil than most maples. Best below 6500’.
Hardiness Some cultivars zones 4, others 5.
Growth habit Varies with cultivar, from rounded to oval to columnar.Size varies with cultivar; most will reach 40’ over time.
Growth rate Varies with cultivar, slow to medium.
Foliage Opposite, simple, 5-lobed, 3-6” across. Petiole is long, 3-4”. Some cultivars have rust to red-purple new leaves that fade to green by summer, others remain red-purple all season. Some of these may exhibit leaf scorch in our high sunlight intensity. Fall color varies but can be a very nice yellow.
Flowers Greenish yellow, small, very attractive for a tree considered a shade tree. Flowering is in April prior to leafing.
Fruit Twin samaras in fall. They form a straight line, unlike most other maple samaras, which form 30-90 degree angles.
Bark Distinctive, gray-black with pronounced root flare.
Insects and diseases Aphids are probable but controllable. If not controlled, large volumes of honeydew will promote sooty molds. Frost cracks of trunk may develop following fluctuating winter temperatures. Roots have a tendency to girdle the trunk. Roots are shallow and shade is dense, eventually limiting lawn grass under the canopy.
Landscape value Medium to high for flowers, shade and fall color.
Best advice Avoid planting within 6’ of sidewalks, which are commonly lifted as roots expand in diameter. Prune as needed in Nov-Dec to reduce “bleeding” sap that would be more prevalent if pruned in Feb-Mar.
Michael Dirr, Manual of Woody Landscape Plants (University of Georgia, 1998)