The big old maple tree in my yard finally came down last summer after years of dropping twigs and branches. I loved its dappled shade and fiery autumn foliage, but not its huge size. I’m planning to replace it this year with a smaller maple variety that has good fall color and a finer texture. There are two new maples being introduced for 2008 that are both contenders for the empty spot in my side yard.
The foliage and shape of the native Big Tooth or Rocky Mountain Maple resemble those of its eastern Sugar Maple cousin, but at half the size. The new variety called Rocky Mountain Glow® Maple (Acer grandidentatum ‘Schmidt’) from J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. has intense red to apricot autumn leaves and grows only about 25’ tall and 15’ wide.
Another Schmidt introduction, Rugged Charm™ Maple (Acer tataricum ‘JFS-KW2’), is about the same size and has the added bonus of yellow flower clusters followed by bright red seed wings and yellow-orange to scarlet fall foliage. This one is hardy down to USDA Zone 3. Hot Wings™ Maple (Acer tataricum ‘GarAnn’ #PP 15,023) from Bailey Nurseries is similar.
If you’d like to add a maple tree to your yard, but don’t have quite enough room for a 40 foot giant, take a look at these new varieties when you’re at your local nursery this spring.