Across the United States and Europe, paperbark maple (Acer griseum), also called Chinese paperbark maple or paper-barked maple, is a popular ornamental tree that is often selected for planting in landscape and garden settings. While the parent species is the most commonly distributed form, several cultivars exist that exhibit unique characteristics. These specimens are rare, and often not available via typical commercial means. The following examines the paperbark maple varieties dubbed ‘Cinnamon Flake’, ‘Fireburst’, and ‘Gingerbread’.
‘Cinnamon Flake’ : ‘Cinnamon Flake’, also referred to as ‘Cinnamon Girl’, is a hybrid maple that crosses paperbark maple with Nikko maple (Acer maximowiczianum). This cultivar is a small to medium sized deciduous tree, growing up to 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. It has a medium to fast growth rate. It assumes a rounded form when mature. ‘Cinnamon Flake’ establishes a dense canopy, replete with trifoliate leaves. The leaves are initially dark green, but transition to a deep scarlet or orange hue in autumn. ‘Cinnamon Flake’ is perhaps most notable for its distinct brown and amber bark that provides aesthetic value throughout the year. The bark is also slightly exfoliating. This cultivar tends to be more durable than the parent species. It is winter hardy down to -30°F, and tolerant of drought conditions. It prefers full sun to partial shade, and well-drained soil.
‘Fireburst’: ‘Fireburst’ It is a small to medium sized deciduous tree, growing 25 to 30 feet in height, with a 20 to 25 foot spread. It has an upright growth habit, and an ovate form. It grows at a medium to fast rate. Dark green, trifoliate leaves appear in spring. The leaves turn a brilliant scarlet shade in fall, a characteristic trait of this cultivar. ‘Fireburst’ also features reddish-brown bark that exfoliates. The bark peels away into papery curls. ‘Fireburst’ requires full sun and well-drained soil to thrive. It has a superior branch structure to the parent species, and tends to better withstand inclement weather.
‘Gingerbread’: ‘Gingerbread’, also referred to as ‘Ginzam’, is a hybrid of paperbark maple and Nikko maple. It is a small to medium sized variety, growing 20 to 30 feet tall, and 15 to 20 feet wide. ‘Gingerbread’ generally grows as a multi-stemmed tree. It has a slow growth rate. When mature, it assumes an ovate form. ‘Gingerbread’ is renown for its cinnamon, pink and tan colored bark. The bark is exfoliating, and can be peeled away in layers. ‘Gingerbread’ has dark green, compound leaves through spring and summer. The leaves turn a vibrant red shade in fall.
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Photo courtesy of S. Rae CC-by-2.0