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Little Beauty has Year Round Benefits

This article was first published on 15 May 2014.

Acer griseum

Acer griseum

One of the most beautiful small trees has to be Acer griseum.  This wee gem has so many good characteristics over all four seasons that it’s surprising you don’t see more people growing it in home gardens.

Spring signals the start of new growth with buds bursting to reveal fresh new trifoliate leaves that have reddish brown tones before turning green.  Yellow, insignificant flowers open followed by winged fruit, called samaras.

By summer the leaves have turned a soft green with a hint of blue on top and white on the underside.  With a spread approximately half as wide as the height, this tree provides good shade throughout the summer.

Autumn brings a fantastic display of fiery orange, red and scarlet coloured leaves as the days shorten.  As the wind blows the coloured leaves to the ground, a framework of branches is left for the winter, revealing stems with soft, cinnamon coloured, peeling bark and smooth, polished-looking bark beneath.

Happy growing in full sun or part shade, this tree tolerates a range of soil types but prefers moist, free draining soils.  It has very few problems with pests and diseases.

Acer griseum is an excellent deciduous small tree for home gardens, and can also be used as an understory tree in a woodland setting.  Equally, it shines as a stand-alone specimen tree, where all its noteworthy characteristics can be admired.

See Acer griseum at Dunedin Botanic Garden, growing on either side of the path going through the Clive Lister Garden.

Stephen Bishop is curator of the Clive Lister Garden at Dunedin Botanic Garden.