Maples are one of the most prominent trees in any Midwestern landscape, certainly on our grounds here at The Morton Arboretum.
“We have total 142 different kinds of maples and 794 specimens in our collections,” says Kunso Kim, head of collections and curator. Kim’s team added nine new maples to the collections last year, including some raised from seeds collected during plant expeditions to China.
Each maple is unique and beautiful, says Kim. Each fall, our maples capture visitors' attention with brilliant colors. But some varieties provide year-round interest. Here are a couple of the more interesting maples to look for during your next hike at the Arb.
Paperbark maple (Acer griseum) offers four-season interest. Winter and spring are highlighted with cinnamon-colored exfoliating bark. Summer brings delicate leaves in groups of three with a bluish-green cast. Fall leaf color is a matte red. There are several specimens in the Arboretum, including at Frost Hill and in the Maple Collection.
State Street® Miyabei maple (Acer miyabei 'Morton') was introduced through the Chicagoland Grows® Plant Introduction Program and named Plant of the Year by the Wisconsin Nursery Association in 2011. The mother tree is located along Joy Path. It is a most adaptable species in our climate and soil conditions, eventually developing into a large tree. Its handsome corky bark develops vertical scales. The thick, five-lobed, medium to dark green leaves remain on the tree long into fall, and then rapidly change to a pale golden yellow fall color.