Flame Amur Maple

Flame Amur Maple Fall Color
Flame Amur Maple Fall Color

In this blog post, we’ll be looking at the characteristics of the Flame Amur Maple, Acer ginnala 'Flame' and the attached video will show how you can change the look of this large shrub by pruning it into a small tree. 

The video below shows you start to finish the entire pruning project. It’s not a technical video but rather an overview of the project. I think you’ll enjoy it. I’ve also included a few before and after photos below.

Flame Amur Maples have a broad, short habit with multiple stems, making them an excellent small ornamental tree (or large shrub if you leave them alone), especially when opening up or exposing those lower stems or trunks.  

  • Size: 15-20’ H x 15-20’ W
  • Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Hardiness: Zone 3-8

Amur Maples are easy to care for as they are drought tolerant, cold hardy, and will grow in many different soil types.

After leafing out in the spring, Flame will also have charming yellow flowers to complement their green, three-lobed leaves. As fall approaches, the leaves will transition in colors from green to dark purple to scarlet red.

Flame (and all other Amur Maples) are medium-sized, compact trees that produces many seeds called samaras, which are technically a fruit. Many people refer to them as helicopters. The samaras are initially “showy” red on the Flame but will quickly turn a dull brown. The seeds are a nuisance to many gardeners, and I believe the Amur Maples are considered invasive in some areas due to how easily the seeds can sprout. In our area, we’re glad we can get any tree to grow 😊. 

Hot Wings Tatarian Maple, Acer tataricum 'GarAnn' is a similar-looking maple with bright red “hot wing” samaras that are very showy for a longer period. I highlighted Hot Wings and three other trees in a video here, if you want additional options on medium-sized trees. Tatarian Maples have a yellow fall color in contrast to the red on Amur Maples.

Smaller trees with ornamental trunks are a favorite attraction of mine when touring homeowner landscapes and arboretums. Here are examples of other tree species with outstanding ornamental trunks when properly pruned.

Overall, most larger, shade tree maples do not fare well in my area of the northern Great Plains and are not the best choice of trees to plant for long-term success. Many maple varieties break dormancy early in the spring, subjecting them to severe damage when the late spring frosts occur. A warm April leads to active growth, and a cold May with frost leads to no more growth due to the actively growing tissue freezing. The result is severe damage and possible death of the trees.

Amur and Tatarian Maple varieties are two exceptions that are tough as nails and are excellent long-term trees for the upper Midwest and Prairie States. I highly recommend both of these species for the colder regions unless you dislike trees with seeds.🤔

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