by Nick Perry
When it comes to producing brilliant fall foliage, few trees can compete with the Sugar Maple. A small maple, native to the Rocky Mountains, definitely gives the Sugar Maple a run for its money. This week’s tree of the week is the Rocky Mountain Glow Maple, Acer grandidentatum ‘Schmidt’. It is a variety of the Bigtooth Maple and was introduced by J. Frank Schmidt Nurseries.
The Glow maple consists of Bigtooth Maple stock grafted onto Sugar Maple rootstock. When mature, it is smaller and more compact than the Sugar Maple. The mature height ranges between 20’ to 30’ and the spread reaches between 15’ to 30’. The growth rate is slow to medium and the canopy develops into a tight, oval shape.
The leaves of the Glow Maple resemble Sugar Maple leaves, but are smaller in size. In the spring and summer they are a rich, dark green. In the fall, they begin to change color producing vibrant reds, yellows and oranges and the tree can appear to “glow”. The trunk and young branches of the developing tree are red and aesthetically add to the landscape year-round. Mature bark turns gray and develops long, irregular furrows and plates that also add to the visual aesthetics of the tree. Spring flowers are not showy and, when fertilized, produce a common samara.
Growing the Glow Maple requires partial to full-sun. Though it can grow in partial shade, it thrives best in full-sun locations. Soil conditions are also an important factor to consider. Soils need to be moderately moist and the roots need to be occasionally deep-soaked to produce healthy stock. The hardiness of the Glow Maple is zone 3, meaning it can tolerate extremely cold soils.
Issues concerning the Glow Maple are minimum, but include chlorosis, sun-scald and the development of decay fungi. Simply growing the maple in the correct landscape and keeping it healthy can eliminate most of these common issues.
Site locations need to be considered first before planting this maple. Planting on streets and boulevards should be avoided for several reasons, including the size of the mature tree, the susceptibility to soil compaction and the exposure to deicing salts. Because it tolerates other urban pollutants, this tree works well in residential yards and city parks. It can be used as a stand-alone specimen or in a group of multi-stemmed trees to provide a vegetative screen.
The University of Minnesota is currently producing the Rocky Mountain Glow Maple at their St. Paul research nursery. Though in production, the tree still has yet to be engaged in replicated trials or tested for regional adaptability.
- The Tree Farm. Rocky Mountain Glow Bigtooth Maple.(2010). Arbotanics,Inc.dba.Retrieved from: http://www.thetreefarm.com/maple-rocky-mountain-glow-bigtooth
- J.Frank Schmidt & Sons Co. Acer grandidentatum, Rocky Mountain Glow Maple.(2015).J.Frank Schmidt & Sons Co. Retrieved from: http://www.jfschmidt.com/introductions/rockymtnglow/index.html
- Conservation Garden Park. Rocky Mountain Glow Maple. (2015). Jordan Valley Conservation Gardens and Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District Website. Retrieved from http://conservationgardenpark.org/plants/1152/rocky-mountain-glow-maple/
- Frank Schmidt & Sons Co. JFS Introductions, Acer grandidentatum ‘Schmidt’ Rocky Mountain Glow Maple. (2015). J. Frank Schmidt & Sons Co. Website. Retrieved from http://www.jfschmidt.com/introductions/rockymtnglow/index.html
- Farmington Gardens. Maples-The Smaller Varieties. (2011). Farmington Gardens Website. Retrieved from http://www.farmingtongardens.com/pdf/infostation/50_maples_smaller.pdf