Updated: Jul 21
Another maple that I have not specified until recently is quickly becoming a street tree alternative to more common maple and sycamore species. Its common name, hedge maple, is curious. While California is not known for hedgerows and instead relies upon field stone and fences to articulate farmlands, the U.K.'s countryside is distinctive for its agrarian patterns framed with narrow, green clipped borders. The U.K's People's Trust for Endangered Species notes that the hedge maple, or field maple, is the only native maple species that responds well to hedging by producing an abundance of new growth. This observation is supported by its natural habit of growing in a multi-trunk form, but nurseries have made it available as standards (single-trunks). Their slower growth also lends them to the idea of limiting their size and form so pruning is not as frequent as with faster growing species.
A. campestre grows a little differently in California, according to Sunset (p. 128). "Thinner," they say, as compared to more dense, compact growth in the Pacific Northwest. As a designer, this could be a benefit if the goal is to create a more tree-like form with light shade. Several sources, including the U.K.'s Woodland Trust, also notes its tolerance to pollution, further lending itself to urban environments. Autumn color may, however, be a little unremarkable compared to other maples. Considering its other benefits, a mild loss of color should not be a deal breaker in designing with this maple.
Botanical Name: Acer campestre
Acer: Traditional Latin name for maple
Campestre: Refers to open plains or fields
Common Name: Hedge maple; field maple
Family Name: Sapindaceae
Origin: Europe, western Asia
Positioning: Spatial separations, lawns or pastures, riparian corridors
Garden Themes: Country, urban, winter, autumn, agrarian
Uses: Multi-trunk: hedgerow, border, screen; standard: shade tree, street tree, syrup (Woodland Trust)
Type: Deciduous tree
Form: Round with low spreading limbs unless otherwise removed; dense informal hedge with winter pruning
Size: 25 to 35' wide x 35' tall
Outstanding Feature(s): Fall color (leaf), winter interest (bark), flexible uses
Bark: Strong texture (corky), fissured, in dark tones of brown and gray
Shape: Palmate, lobed
Color: Medium green may turn yellow in Autumn. Slightly glossy.
Fruit: Samara, light green turning tan with pink tint
cultural requirements, tolerances & problems
Sunset Zones: 2-9, 14-17
USDA Zones: 5-8
Light: Full sun to full 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: Some soil compaction, pollution, wet soil, brief drought
Problems: Can be weedy in riparian corridors
Branch Strength: Medium
Insects: Aphids, scale, borders, caterpillars (including beneficial species)
Disease: Leaf spot, verticillium, tar spot, canker, root rot, armillaria
In parts of Europe, it was thought that maple branches hung around a doorway stopped bats entering. The herbalist Culpepper recommended maple leaves and bark to strengthen the liver.
citations & attributions
Missouri Botanical Garden. "Acer campestre." Accessed on June 26, 2021, from https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=275376&isprofile=0&.
Norris Brenzel, K. (Ed.). (2012). The New Sunset Western Garden Book. New York: Time Home Entertainment, Inc.
NC State Extension. "Acer campestre." North Carolina State University, Raleigh. Accessed on June 26, 2021, from https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/acer-campestre/.
PTES. "Hedgerows: a guide to wildlife and management." People's Trust for Endangered Species. Accessed on June 26, 2021. https://ptes.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Hedgerow-guide-web-version.pdf.
Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute SelecTree. "Acer campestre Tree Record." 1995-2021. Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. Accessed on June 26, 2021.
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.
Woodland Trust. "Maple, field." Woodland Trust (Enterprises) Limited. Accessed on June 26, 2021. https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/a-z-of-british-trees/field-maple/.