The Paper bark maple (Acer griseum) was brought from Europe to North America around 1907 but is native to central China. It is a small to medium-sized deciduous ornamental tree reaching up to 30 feet. It is named for its shiny orange-red bark peeling in thin papery layers. The paper bark maple has compound leaves with trifoliate toothed long leaflets turning orange, red or reddish-green in the fall. The winged samaras with large seeds look a like those on a Norway maple tree. The paperbark maple often grows multiple trunks, even branching quite close to the ground. This gives it a vase-shaped, sculptured appearance, particularly after leaf fall in the winter.
Not familiar with the word Samara? Samara refers to the winged fruit of trees like the elm, ash, and maple. It looks like a key that winds up clocks or toys, and its unique shape enables it to spin like a helicopter’s rotor and drift away from its tree. In Latin, Samara just means “seed of the elm.”