Trees are more than decorative features; they add value to not only your property but to the environment as well. It’s trees that provide most of the oxygen we need for survival and they also filter out harmful toxins in the air, help control our climates, and even help fight soil erosion. They are a vital part of the everyday world around us – in urban landscapes, in our parks and playgrounds, lining our streets. Trees provide shade on hot sunny days but also aid in creating a sense of peace and tranquility. Have you ever sat in a country park or taken a hike through the forest and enjoyed the sound of the wind rushing through the leaves, or hearing birds and small animals frolicking among the branches above you? Then you know what we mean.
The Acer ginnala Flame is so closely related to the Acer tataricum that it is commonly treated as a subspecies by many botanists. However the Amur maple is native to northeastern Asia, found in Mongolia, Japan and Korea. It is also found in the far east of Russia in the Amur River valley region, where it takes its name from. Amur maples are deciduous spreading trees that can reach up to 20 feet at full maturity, even with a short trunk base. The crown of the tree can also reach up to 20 feet and cover a wide area. Slender branches grow upwards and outwards starting at the base. Leaves form opposite one another and can be up to four inches long. Small yellowish green flowers accompany the new leaf growth. The leaves have an irregular shape with several lobes. Double samara fruits also form during the spring, and mature from late summer to early fall. Coming into autumn, the green leaves transform into a spectacular orange color before settling on the fiery red that the tree is famous for. This tree is also a popular option for use in the art of bonsai, creating miniature potted trees with the same pleasing form as the larger versions. Many bonsai artists find the practice of creating these miniatures very relaxing and the end result is a beautiful work of living art.
Unlike some other maple trees, the Amur maple can be used in a wide range of USDA plant hardiness zones. The lowest being zone 2, which includes locations throughout Alaska and the northwestern Canadian territories. Zone 8 contains locations that are much warmer, like northern Texas and Florida. As you can see by its extensive growing range, this tree is an ideal selection for most of the United States. It is very tolerant of extreme temperature changes, even during long droughts. However, by ensuring the tree has an adequate water supply during drought-like conditions, you’ll keep it in top condition. Similar to its varied climate tolerances, it is also adaptable to a variety of soil conditions. The best conditions for optimal growth are in locations that are well drained, of average or medium soil types. Flame is tolerant of heavier clay soils as well, which just adds to its versatility. Amur maples should be planted in locations that receive the most sun for optimum color change in the leaves throughout the spring, summer, and autumn seasons.
Caring for the Amur maple is also quite easy. The tree is tolerant of heavy pruning which means that it can be cut back to a shrub-like size, allowing it to be used as a hedge or privacy border around your property. Being able to prune it as required, you will also be able to create a tree that fits into your chosen space just the way you need it to. Even though the tree is adaptable and tolerable of a variety of conditions, there are certain diseases you will need to keep an eye out for in order to prevent long-term irreparable damage. Leaf spot diseases are a slight concern which can be controlled by removing affected branches from the tree. Verticillium has been identified as a potential problem with this particular cultivar. While none of these are considered particularly serious, early intervention is always best and can save your tree and your wallet from costly professional care.
As you can see, when it comes to the Amur maple, Flame is one of the few trees that can double as a shrub, take a lot of environmental abuse and still look absolutely stunning all year long. The ability to prune the tree to fit the specific needs of your landscape design is another bonus feature you will be hard pressed to find in other varieties. Whether you want to plant it in a central location to be a featured focal point in your design, or as a mass planting to create a beautiful and stunning privacy hedge, Flame is a tree that will bring a lot to your garden.