Paperbark maple (Acer griseum) was first discovered by Western botanists on a plant collecting expedition in China in 1901. Can you guess why it's called "paperbark maple"? It is treasured as an ornamental tree for its coppery, flaking, paperlike bark and three-lobed leaves.
Despite its horticultural popularity, it is very hard to grow from seed. Tree breeders would like to have more genetic diversity to work with as they develop new ornamental varieties of this species.
Paperbark maple is endangered in the wild in China because its populations are isolated and trees often produce seeds that do not sprout. Scientists from The Morton Arboretum are conducting field work in China to investigate the levels of genetic diversity left in the wild and identify populations of paperbark maple that harbor the most genetic diversity. These populations of trees are the most important to protect for conservation and horticultural purposes.
What can you do? Support The Morton Arboretum and its science and conservation programs. The Arboretum’s Center for Tree Science collaborates with scientists around the world to help us better understand, grow, and save trees.