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Autumn Blaze Maple Trees

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Picture of Autumn Blaze maple tree. As the photo shows, Autumn Blaze maple trees' leaves turn red.

As the picture shows, this specimen is a fall-foliage standout!

Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden

Plant Taxonomy of Autumn Blaze Maple:

Plant taxonomy classifies Autumn Blaze maple tree as Acer x freemanii 'Jeffersred' Autumn Blaze®. It is a hybrid of the red maple (Acer rubrum) and the silver maple (Acer saccharinum). 'Jeffersred' is the cultivar, while Autumn Blaze is the trade name.

Plant Type:

Autumn Blaze maple trees are deciduous trees.

Characteristics:

At maturity, Autumn Blaze maples will reach about 50 feet tall by 40 feet wide, with a rounded crown. Fortunately, maturity comes relatively quickly: their fast-growing nature is one of their best qualities. The branching pattern is dense and ascending.

They come into their own in fall, as their fall color is a vivid brilliant orangy-red.

Planting Zones:

Acer x freemanii is best grown in planting zones 3-8.

Sun and Soil Requirements for Autumn Blaze Maple:

Best grown in moist but well-drained soil and in full sun to partial shade. They prefer a soil pH that is acidic.

Landscape Uses:

Autumn Blaze maples can function in the landscape as fast-growing shade trees and as specimens highly valued for their fall foliage. With back-to-back "Urban Tree of the Year" awards in 2003 and 2004, you know they are pollution-tolerant (an important consideration if you will be growing them along a street in a busy neighborhood). As with other trees deemed suitable for urban areas, they can adapt to a wide range of soil conditions and are both insect-resistant and disease-resistant.

Super Hybrid:

How is this hybrid better than a plain old red maple tree (Acer rubrum)? Well, for one thing, homeowners often become impatient with newly-planted red maples, which don't look like much for several years. The cross with silver maple seems to have injected a dose of vigor into the tree, without compromising the natural strength of red maple branches (a strength lacked by silver maples).

Outstanding Characteristics:

These are outstanding fall foliage specimens. While their strength and their tolerance for pollution are useful qualities, it is their fast-growing nature and beauty in fall that ensures them a place among the elite of landscape plants.

More on Trees With Colorful Leaves:

I offer much more information about trees used to inject autumn color into a yard. You can see my list here:

Fall Foliage Trees

Of the specimens on this list of fall-foliage standouts, sumac will likely be the shortest; it is classified as a shrub, although staghorn sumac can grow to be rather tall. Sumac tends also to be the earliest (September) on the list to assume its fall foliage.

By contrast, oak and beech tend to be two of the tardiest in putting on their fall colors. Also, my own sweetgum tree often makes me wait until November before it becomes colorful. If you don't want the job of having to clean up the gumballs of a sweetgum, select a non-fruiting cultivar.

Along the same lines, most people prefer to grow the male Ginkgo biloba, because the fruiting female can be very messy!

Dogwood and shagbark hickory are two of the more versatile specimens on the list. Both "flowering" and "Japanese" dogwoods are better known for their spring flowers than their fall foliage, although they would be well worth growing for the latter, alone. Meanwhile, hickory provides not only a golden fall foliage but also its namesake nuts.

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