Acer X freemanii (Freeman Maple)
|Also known as:|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||sun; urban and suburban landscapes|
|Bloom season:||April - May|
|Plant height:||45 to 70 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Trees are largely sterile. Flowers, when present at all, appear in late April to early May, in dense red clusters at the ends of of one year old branches.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are simple, opposite, and stalked, the blade 4 to 6 inches long and as wide, with 5 palmate, pointed lobes, the central lobe wider towards the tip than at its base, the sides often concave. Upper surface is dark green, smooth and glossy, the lower surface paler and smooth. Leaf edges are sharply and irregularily toothed. The leaf stalk and veins on the underside are red to reddish green.
Branchlets are red to reddish brown and smooth, older branches turning grayish like the trunk, the bark moderately textured by furrows and ridges. No information on diameter at breast height (dbh) of large trees. Crown width and shape of mature trees varies depending on the cultivar.
Fruit, when present at all, is a pair of winged seeds (samara).
Freeman Maple is a hybrid between the native Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) and Red Maple (A. rubrum). While purportedly naturally occurring, most of the specimens frequently used in urban plantings today are cultivar selections of progeny obtained from controlled crosses at eastern arbortea over the last 70-80 years. At present, about a dozen cultivars are in the trade. With both parental species present in Minnesota and likely in close enough proximity to each other to provide for both insect and wind dispersed pollination, hypothetically some naturally hybrids could occur within the state, but to date no such crosses have ever been documented here. We've included a description for these hybrids here in our field guide as it has become widely prevalent in urban landscapes and tree identifiers will be seeking a description. Deemed desirable in the urban landscape, these hybrids exhibit the faster growth rate and greater site tolerance of the Silver Maple while not obtaining its huge size, as well as the striking fall colors and stronger wood of the Red Maple. However, many have noted its tendency to develop multiple leaders and with narrow crotch angles that may predispose it to structural failure later in life.
Of the two parental species, Freeman Maple will look most similar to the red maple in its leaf shape but can be readily distinguished by the central lobe that narrows at the base from the widest point below the tip, the sides often concave. In Red Maple, the central lobe is squarish, as wide at the base as its widest point below the tip, the sides more or less straight and parallel. Leaves are less deeply lobed than Silver Maple and the sinuses narrower. It should also be noted that since urban plantings of this tree are all derived from only a few cultivars, these plantings will exhibit extreme uniformity in size, shape and fall color. We should also note that our information on flowers, seeds and mature diameters is sketchy due to lack of available information and few examples to study for ourselves. While noted in the literature it's capable of flowering, we've never observed this, even in trees now of advancing age. The same is true for mature tree size descriptions and most Minnesota specimens have all been planted just within the past 25 years.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Ramsey counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?