TREES & plants

Trident maple

Trident maple is a medium-sized tree that can be used as a street tree or specimen. The trident-shaped leaves turn shades of red and orange in autumn.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

Botanical name: 
Acer buergerianum
All Common Names: 
trident maple, Chinese maple, threetooth maple
Family (English): 
Soapberry (formerly Maple)
Family (Botanic): 
Sapindaceae (formerly Aceraceae)
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks, 
  • City parkway, 
  • Wide median, 
  • Restricted sites
Landscape Uses: 
  • Parkway/street, 
  • Shade tree, 
  • Specimen
Size Range: 
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet)
Mature Height: 
25-35 feet
Mature Width: 
15-25 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8, 
  • Zone 9
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil, 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Prefers
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Tolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Fall color, 
  • Attractive bark
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter, 
  • Mid winter, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall, 
  • Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Oval, 
  • Round
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
  • Insect pollinators
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

Avoid pruning maples in spring as they are 'bleeders' and will lose large quantities of sap.

Disease, pests, and problems

Verticillium wilt is a potential problem for maples.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to China and Korea.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is gray, becoming scaly and flaky with age.  Flaking reveals inner bark which is orange-brown.  The bark has some ornamental appeal.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Leaves are arranged in pairs (opposite); 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long with three forward-pointing lobes giving a trident shape to the leaf.  Dark green in summer, changing to yellow, orange and red in fall.  Color can vary from year to year.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Inconspicuous; small flowers held in clusters in early spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruit are pairs of winged seeds (samaras).

Cultivars and their differences

Streetwise® trident maple (Acer buergerianum 'Streetwise'):  New foliage emerges red-purle and then changes to green for summer.  Autumn color is a good burgundy red.  Bark exfoliates (peels) when young.



Acer buergerianum or Trident maple

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.