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Illustration of Acer rubrum by Charles Faxon

Maple Collection plants

Our maple collection in autumn splendor.
A wide shot of various maple trees showing orange and yellow leaves in fall.


Fun Facts

  • Several beautiful specimens of three-flowered maple (Acer triflorum) grow in front of the Hunnewell Building. While many maples have simple leaves (think sugar maple or red maple), A. triflorum has compound leaves composed of three leaflets. This maple develops excellent orange to red fall color and has attractive amber bark that exfoliates in narrow curls.

  • Just across the road from the Hunnewell Building is the original specimen of Acer rubrum ‘Schlesingeri’, a red maple cultivar introduced by the Arnold Arboretum. It is one of the earliest red maple cultivars to show fall color, often as early as mid to late August.

  • Over 100 feet tall and over 100 years old, the large silver maple (Acer saccharinum, accession 12560*C) along Meadow Road is a favorite with visitors and is thought to be the tallest tree at the Arboretum. This tree survived the big hurricane of 1938 but did sustain some damage from Hurricane Irene in 2011.

  • The genus Acer holds a number of interesting examples of North American–Asian disjunct flora (closely related, similar-looking species that grow on separate continents). Among the Arboretum’s maples, note the similarities between the striking stripe-barked or snake-bark maples from Asia (including A. tegmentosum, A. davidii, and A. capillipes) and striped maple (A. pensylvanicum) from eastern North America.

  • The maple collection holds accessions of Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) and its cultivars, which are popular small ornamental trees. Similarly handsome species in the collection include Korean maple (A. pseudosieboldianum), full moon maple (A. japonicum), painted maple (A. mono), and hairypalm maple (A. pubipalmatum).

  • Paperbark maple (Acer griseum) has long been favored by plant connoisseurs for its lovely exfoliating, cinnamon-colored bark and bright red-orange fall color. The Arboretum holds two of the first paperbark maples in the United States, grown from seed wild-collected in China by E. H. Wilson in 1907; look for one venerable specimen in the heart of the maple collection, and a unique, wide-spreading specimen in the Explorers Garden on Bussey Hill.


The Arnold Arboretum has an extensive collection of maples (Acer spp.), containing 141 of the approximately 230 botanical taxa from around the world. Because of its diverse and numerous holdings of wild-collected maples, the Arnold Arboretum is designated as one of the Plant Collection Network’s maple collection sites. Our collection is especially rich in rare and unusual Asian maples, including a number of endangered species.

Because of these valuable accessions, the Arboretum’s maple collection was ranked as the most significant in the world for conservation purposes in a report by Botanic Gardens Conservation International. This organization, which promotes plant conservation efforts at botanic gardens and similar institutions, analyzed the maple collections of 228 institutions in 37 countries and found that the Arboretum holds the greatest number of Acer species listed as endangered or critically endangered in the wild.


Featured Plants

Illustration of paperbark maple by Charles Faxon
12488*B Map it ↗

Paperbark Maple

Scientific Name
Acer griseum

A remarkable and rare species native to central China, this maple is most known for its striking copper-colored papery bark. Plant collector Ernest Henry Wilson introduced it to North America in 1907. The Arboretum is home to some of the oldest paperbark maples outside of China.

View plant bio
Paperbark maple

Plants in this Collection

Plant ID Accession Date Recieved As Origin Source

Featured Walk

This quarter-mile tour through the Explorers Garden features stories from the Arboretum’s century and a half of collecting plants around the world. If you’re at the Arboretum, click here to take a version of this tour with Expeditions, our mobile web app.

Dove tree (Davidia involucrata)

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