Autumn Blaze Maple
Acer x Freemanii 'Jeffersred'
If you have the room to plant a large urban tree, the Autumn Blaze Maple is definitely one to consider. I spotted these trees recently in the field, and had to stop to take a photo, they were so impressive. This cross of the rubrum (red) and saccharinum (silver) maples seems to combine the best qualities of those two species. This tree possesses the good qualities of brilliant orange-red fall color, dense and healthy branching, and vigor that is almost too much for its own good. It has been so impressive that the Autumn Blaze Maple was selected Urban Tree of the Year in 2003, based on responses to an annual survey in the Arborist Magazine, City Trees.
This is a patented tree, selected by the late Glenn Jeffers of Jeffers Nursery in North Central Ohio. It also has excellent disease and insect resistance, and a wide range of adaptability. The tree can apparently grow in the frigid hardiness zone of 3 in the North, to the warm humid South of zone 8. It tolerates both wet and dry conditions, and grows to 60' tall by 40' wide. The leaves are deeply lobed, resembling the Silver Maple leaves that are rich and green in color until their incredible show in the fall. Limbs are ascending, and the tree grows to a tall oval form.
In the nursery, it outgrows everything we plant. In fact, under perfect soils and moisture, it almost gets leggy; therefore, we actually have to back off on supplemental watering after establishment. However, those conditions are not common on most urban sites. The only caution I have is that sometimes the lateral limbs will try to out-compete the leader, so careful pruning of a portion of the lateral limbs is sometimes beneficial to maintain a strong leader. If you have any experiences with Autumn Blaze Maple that you would like to share, let me know