Paperbark maple (Acer griseum)

Near NW corner of the Campus Services building Map

The chief attraction of paperbark maple is, as one might guess, its rich cinnamon colored bark which peels and forms interesting flaps clinging to the trunk. Several young specimens of this handsome tree were planted near the NW corner of the new (in 2006) Campus Services building. Others are to be found on campus, and elsewhere in Bellingham. (A noteworthy line of young trees stands immediately north of the Fairhaven Village Green).

The leaves of the paperbark maple also are interesting. The leaves are compound - three ~2 inch elliptical leaflets make up a single leaf. Paperbark maples have deep sinuses, separating the leaf into several independent leaflets. It also has the maple tree's double-winged "whirlybirds" seed pods.

Paperbark maple is a slow-growing tree that reaches a relatively modest height. It is native to western China and was introduced into commerce in North America and Europe in the early 1900s. It has spectacular autumn foliage which can include red, orange and pink tones.

All authorities agree that it is extremely difficult to propagate from seed. One, in fact, reports a success rate of 8% or less. The author can attest that this is, in fact, rather high - three careful attempts to date have yielded trays full of weeds, but no Acer griseum.