Acer griseum

Paperbark Maple




  • native to China
  • zone 4

Habit and Form

  • to 30' tall, small tree
  • deciduous
  • shape is oval, upright or irregular
  • short main trunk with several secondary, more or less upright scaffold trunks
  • texture is fine to medium
  • slow growing

Summer Foliage

  • opposite, trifoliate leaves 3" to 5" long
  • soft, blue-green color, almost frosty or white on underside

Autumn Foliage

  • can be a pronounced red, but frequently is green with red overtones on exposed leaf surfaces
  • last trifoliate maple to color


  • green, inconspicuous


  • samaras, 1.5" to 2" long, pubescent nutlet


  • exfoliating cinnamon-brown bark, peeling in thin sheets and also polished smooth in places
  • very attractive bark, a strong ornamental feature


  • relatively pest free
  • prefers a moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil
  • full sun or partial shade

Landscape Uses

  • specimen
  • possibly in mini-groves
  • edge of woods
  • good choice for small yards


  • may be somewhat expensive
  • once rare and pricey, but becoming readily available

ID Features

  • trifoliate leaves and exfoliating cinnamon-brown bark
  • buds sharply pointed and dark purplish-brown


  • by seed, but only around 5% of the samaras are viable
  • has been grafted on Acer saccharum with some success
  • cuttings from hedged, seedling (juvenile) plants can be rooted


Hybrids between A. nikoense and A. griseum have been cultivated. Dr. Sid Waxman, University of Connecticut, has selected such a hybrid and named it 'Cinnamon Flake'. This attractive plant features bark that flakes in smaller strips than the species. The stem surface often appears pleated like corduroy.

'Ginzam' (Gingerbread) - A hybrid of A. griseum and A. nikoense that features fine bark and a faster growth rate than the species, maturing at 30' tall. A tree with these traits may hold great promise in the future.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.