Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Acer Campestre

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Acer campestre Leaf (08/09/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Acer campestre Leaf (08/09/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to dappled shade

Flowering period: Spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 15m

Eventual Spread: 8m

Hardiness: 4a – 9a

Family: Sapindaceae

Acer campestre is a small / medium sized deciduous tree with a compact bushy crown. Its mid to dark green leaves are opposite, palmate with five blunt lobes, up to 12cm long and 10cm broad. Its leaves turn yellow in autumn before they fall. Its trunk may achieve a diameter of 1m. Its grey/ light brown bark is finely fissured. Its yellow/ green flowers are small, produced in corymbs in erect cluster and appear at the same time as its leave appear. Its green fruit is a winged samara which is up to 3cm long.

Acer campestre, commonly known as Field Maple, Common Maple (in Australia) and Hedge Maple (North America), is native to most of Europe (including the UK) and south east Asia. It is very shade tolerant and vigorous in the early stage of its life, once it starts producing seed it requires more light and growth slows. It is an intermediate species in disturbed areas, colonising after some vegetation has been established.

The etymology of the binomial name Acer is derived from the classical Latin name for the Maple. Campestre is from Latin meaning ‘of the plains’.

Acer campestre (08/09/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Acer campestre (08/09/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

The landscape architect may find Acer campestre useful as part of a native woodland mix. In its native habitat it grows at the edge of fields and woodlands. It is an effective deciduous hedging species, both as part of a native mix and as a single species. It also forms an attractive parkland tree.

Ecologically, Acer campestre flowers are attractive to pollinating insects. Its leaves attract aphids and gall mites.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Acer campestre their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Acer campestre prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil, although it prefers neutral to alkali.

Acer campestre requires little maintenance. It will tolerate hard pruning.

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