Updated: Jul 21, 2021
The trident maple is aptly named for the leaf form that stands out from other maple species. Think of a simplified Canadian maple leaf. Leaves can vary in shape from tree to tree. This one (right) has a stubby central lobe, but others on web sites such as CalPoly's Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute (I rely on their data quite often) exhibit more distinct or elongated lobes, giving them a more striking appearance.
For designers, leaf shape, overall texture, and distinct fall color may enhance their landscape composition. Therefore, selecting trees in nurseries when they are fully leafed out (summer) or exhibiting fall color will be more reliable than placing a nursery order or relying on a contractor's eye. In particular, trees have a lasting impression, so it could be critical to take the time for tagging specific trees for a design.
I have not seen many A. beurgerianum in public landscapes where I spend most of my time these days. Nor do I see them at the nurseries, which admittedly could be just me and where I travel. This is, however, California, where drought is a frequent challenge. Maples generally appreciate more water than I am willing to give them, so my opportunities to specifying them in moist locations are rare.
Botanical Name: Acer buergerianum
Acer: Traditional Latin name for maple
Heinrich Buerger: Honoree, 19th century botanist
Common Name: Trident maple
Family Name: Sapindaceae
Origin: Eastern China, Korea, Japan
Positioning: Lawn, patio/courtyard/small spaces, understory tree
Garden Themes: Pollinator, winter, autumn, children's
Uses: Small shade tree, specimen, bonsai/container
Type: Deciduous tree
Form: Round with low spreading limbs unless otherwise removed
Size: 25' wide x 25' tall
Outstanding Feature(s): Fall color (leaf), winter interest (bark)
Bark: Gray and exfoliating when older revealing an orange-brown interior
Shape: Palmate, tri-lobed
Margin: Entire to serrate
Color: Dark green turning red/orange/gold/yellow in Autumn (color may not be as intense in California, as it may depend on local temperatures and sun intensities). Slightly glossy.
Fruit: Samara, light green turning brown
cultural requirements, tolerances & problems
Sunset Zones: 2-9, 14-17
USDA Zones: 5-9
Light: Full sun to partial shade
WUCOLS SF Bay Area Hydro Zone: Moderate
Texture: Clay, Sand, Loam
Moisture Retention: Moist but well-drained
pH: Highly acidic to highly alkaline
Tolerances: Drought, salt, wind, and some soil compaction
Problems: Resistant to deer
Branch Strength: Medium to weak
Insects: Invasive shot-hole borer, aphids
Disease: Armillaria, verticillium, root rot
citations & attributions
Missouri Botanical Garden. "Acer buergerianum." Accessed on June 26, 2021, from https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b972.
Norris Brenzel, K. (Ed.). (2012). The New Sunset Western Garden Book. New York: Time Home Entertainment, Inc.
NC State Extension. "Acer buergerianum." North Carolina State University, Raleigh. Accessed on June 26, 2021, from https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/acer-buergerianum/.
Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute SelecTree. "Acer buergerianum Tree Record." 1995-2021. Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. Accessed on Jun 26, 2021, from https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/39.
Water Use Classification of Landscape Species. "WUCOLS IV Plant List." University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Davis. Accessed on June 26, 2021.