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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)

Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks,
  • City parkway,
  • Wide median,
  • Restricted sites

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

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


  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Road salt

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

Seasons of Interest:

  • early winter,
  • midwinter,
  • 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.



Location of Acer buergerianum (Trident maple) at the Arboretum

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