Acer Barbatum - Southern Sugar Maple
"The Southern Sugar Maple is a wonderful native ornamental and shade tree for the South. It is essentially a “Canadian flag” sugar maple that adapted itself to the South. Unlike the foresters, I refuse to refer to it as the Florida sugar maple as it’s barely native to Florida. It’s not common in the trade but well worth seeking out. Its fall color is generally butterscotch yellow with occasional orange or red blushes, somewhat like a peach. It generally has marcescent foliage which clings throughout the winter. It’s one of my favorite trees. One of these days I’ll try tapping some and making southern maple syrup." ~ Greg Grant, SFA Gardens Outreach
Acer Leucoderme - Chalk Maple
"This southern treasure is native from East Texas to North Carolina. It is essentially a small version of our native southern sugar maple. However, instead of having characteristic gold fall color, the chalk maple sports hues of orange and red, more like a red maple. It also has green backed leaves instead of white. The undersides of chalk maple leaves are covered with what I call “micro-velvet” and are distinguishing to the touch. It is only native in a few East Texas counties but should be planted in all of them. It’s one of my favorite trees on the planet!" Greg Grant, SFA Gardens Outreach
Acer Japonicum 'Vitifolium'
This fullmoon maple has found a happy home at SFA. We don’t have many full moon maple varieties here and most of what we have are slower growing than this cultivar. Located in the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, the tree can be spotted from a good distance. The fall color has been described by visitors as “iridescent”, “outrageous”, “striking” and foliage transitions between yellow, red and orange to make a big splash in the fall.
Acer Palmatum 'Crimson Queen'
This USA cultivar has achieved a good presence in the southern USA. Plants can reach 10’ high and 15’ wide when well grown and time is not a problem. Crimson Queen is a special weeping form blessed with highly dissected leaves. The variety features vibrant burgundy foliage in the spring. In our region, the species greens up for the summer. Fall color can vary depending on plant location. Plants in plenty of sun – for at least part of the day – can be dramatically red and yellow. Fall foliage on plants grown in the shade lean to the dusty yellows and oranges.
Acer Palmatum 'Fireglow'
Similar to ‘Bloodgood’, ‘Fireglow’ is more upright, leaves are less divided and the colors more intense. ‘Fireglow’ foliage emerges in the spring a bright pink which quickly turns to red and then holds well into early summer. In our garden, this variety fades to dark green foliage with a nuance of burgundy in the summer. Fall foliage returns with the first cold spells in November, reaches a peak in December, and can be as intense as the spring with distinctive splashes of red and burgundy dominating the celebration. ‘Fireglow’ was selected by the Fratelli Gilardelli Nursery, near Milan, Italy over 35 years ago – and it has found favor in many gardens in the southern USA.
Acer Palmatum 'Mikawa Yatsubusa'
OK, this little fellow has a special place in our garden simply because it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. It’s going to take a lot of time getting to be a very small little tree. ‘Mikawa yatsubusa’ is considered to be a green dwarf with short stubby growth and leaf buds partnered very close together. Leaves make a dense shingle like cover over the branches. Fall color is disappointing. The spring “show” is unexceptional. This one’s all about form. Ultimate size? I’m not sure, but I suspect it’s not overwhelming. Our eight year old plant presented here is less than two feet tall and wide and seems quite vigorous and healthy. In spite of my unbending praise for this plant over many years, it has never failed to illicit a student nearby to ask, “hey, that’s great, but what does it actually do?”
Acer Palmatum 'Moonfire'
This is one of the Japanese maple varieties that gives both a great spring show and a fall celebration. Moonfire is a selection of A. palmatum var. atropurpureum by Richard Wolff of Red Maple Nursery, Media, Pennsylvania. New growth in the spring carries hues of black, purple, red and puts on a good show until late spring. Fall foliage turns to a similar burgundy to red show. In our gardens, the fall peak show is around December 1, and can last well into winter, depending on just how hard the freeze get. In the proper spot, Moonfire will develop into a stout tree and top out at about 20’.
Acer Palmatum 'Omure Yama'
Omure Yama wins my best in fall foliage for a Japanese maple. This variety grows relatively fast and can reach 15’ tall and as wide. Lime green new growth in the spring has an orange leaf edge that always brings a smile to the first timer with this species. . But it’s the fall show that gets the A+. In my mind, this is just the right combination of reds and yellows to say “Hey! Look at me!”
Omure Yama is fast growing and upright as a young tree. Once a small tree or large shrub in the landscape, this variety begins to exhibit a slight cascading habit with new growth that is quite attractive.
Acer Palmatum 'Orange Dream'
Introduced in the late 1980s by the Fratelli Gilardelli Nursery, near Milan, Italy, this variety was selected for its unique spring colored foliage. Orange Dream is a beacon in the shade of the Ruby M. Mize Azalea garden. New growth is yellow green with leaf edges trimmed in hues of salmon and pink. Fall color is red and green and less than inspired, but quite pleasing to those who appreciate a more subdued display. Orange Dream is reported to develop into an upright bushy shrub reaching ten feet in that many years.
Acer Palmatum 'Orangeola'
‘Orangeola’ was introduced in the USA in the 1980s and has found great favor in many gardens. This is a dissectum blessed with a strong weeping habit. With burgundy-red spring foliage, this variety greens up for the summer and is known for late summer and early fall new growth that is bright orange-red. This is unique among Japanese maple varieties and worth noting. In the fall, ‘Orangeola’ carries burgundy-red foliage into late December in our gardens, depending on the severity of winter freezes. At any rate, it’s a first class specimen and should be given space to develop. This variety is probably best trained to a 6’ to 9’ tall bamboo pole to give the variety some height. It is strongly weeping and tends to be taller than wide. This is a relatively new cultivar in our garden but it’s performed well in a number of spots and looks very promising. It appears durable enough to take Texas heat and sun in good stride, at least in our region.
Acer Palmatum 'Oto Hime'
This is the SFA Mast Arboretum’s favorite toadstool award winner year in and out. Actually, this is the tree world’s version of the ugly duckling transforming into a beautiful swan. In the container, it’s a sad looking fellow in its youth. No doubt it’s kind of slow at first, but with a little time and good position, this plant can take off. It’s one of those plants that just get better and better with age. Six or seven year old plants should reach four to five feet wide, and two to three foot tall. Our twenty year old specimen is now 8’ wide and 4’ tall. We have rooted this cultivar and, as we’re prone to do with student-generated goodies, we’ve planted a good number in the SFA Mast Arboretum and Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden. Fall color is somewhat below Japanese maple quality, but early spring growth is attractive. Small lime-green leaves sport salmon-burgundy edges, which soon green up for the summer. The tree is appears to be quite drought resistant once well established.