The beautiful chalk maple ... Can it thrive on full sun?

acer(6b western NC)July 8, 2013

A while back, someone on this forum got me interested in the chalk maple (Acer leucoderme). From what I've read, it's basically a sugar maple in miniature with smooth grey bark. But it's also described as an understory tree that's very shade tolerant. My planting site is in mostly full sun on sandy river-bottom soil. Would a chalk maple be happy there? Also, what's the growth rate of a healthy chalk maple?

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j0nd03

Mine is in full all day sun. Not even a hint of scorch last year, which was brutally hot and dry. It grew a little over 2' this spring. I wouldn't worry about it in full sun in a colder zone than mine for an instant.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 6:02PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Plant it, and it will grow. :-)

I have two side by side. Trying to get them to grow through one another so that each individual mixes fall color with the other. In any event, full sun they are. It may be happy in shade, but it can also be happy in full sun. Just might have to water it during dry weather to keep it at it's best, but their native habitat can get very dry, so that may not be a problem in good soil except in extreme drought. As I keep saying, a much neglected, much much tougher, faster growing Sugar Maple, that is an opportunity waiting for someone with the foresight and pockets to get them into widespread public view at a size large enough to attract attention.

Arktrees

This post was edited by arktrees on Mon, Jul 8, 13 at 18:51

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 6:46PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

It should in your location. Not sure in hot and dry area though with full sun exposure. It is basically a miniature version of Sugar maple. Slow grower at my mom's in Houston. It took years but it is finally looking like a nice tree.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 7:01PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

I forgot to include growth rate as John did. The one that has been planted the longest has added about 27" to it's central leader this year. The other one has added about 15", but has been in the ground for only one full growing season. If you need a source, then we can help you with that as well. My trees came from two different sources, as I wanted to increase the genetic diversity between the two so that cross pollination is more likely to result in viable seed.

Arktrees

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 9:04PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Worth a try in MD, perhaps?

FWIW "real" sugars usually do OK here, but the Chalk Maple almost looks to be an American alternative to the Paperbark maple (not the same bark but still interesting) or any small Asian maple.

What fall color should one expect?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 10:52PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Hair,
They are all seed grown, so just as variable in color as seed grown Sugar Maple. However they are propedly reliable brightly colored even in warm weather climates. Due to the variability, It has crossed my mind that a trio planted in say a 3 foot circle that grew up together would look particularly nice with the variation in color.

Arktrees

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 11:48PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Looks like Almost Eden sells them - anyone got experience w/them?

I'm surprised these aren't used more...or even attempts to hybridize w/Sugar Maple. That could make some interesting combos...a white-barked full-size Sugar Maple, perhaps?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 1:42PM
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j0nd03

Hair, I have had two orders with Almost Eden. I highly recommend them.

In my order from them this spring, I bought a 1' acer skutchii (very close relative of chalk maple) from them that has grown over 3' on this year's growth. It is now 4'+ and pushing again, albiet this last time most likely a response to all the damage a rat has caused. My other trees in this order and the previous were not rootbound and have done very, very well.

John

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 2:05PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Hair,
My trees came from two sources. The first one, and larger one came from Pine Ridge Gardens here in Arkansas. Mary Ann the owner, does ship plants at reasonable rates. Lots of not so common natives there as well. Have been happy with whatever I have gotten from PRG.

The second tree came as a seedling about 8" tall in a tree tube, from Mail Order Natives of Lee Florida. Again very reasonable shipping cost, and happy with the plants. l would certainly order from them again. John this is the origin of yours as well.

Doesn't matter to me where you get them, just giving you more options.

Arktrees

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 4:17PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

John, I didn't know Almost Eden is selling A. Skutchii. I just noticed that it's that close to SFASU arboretum so it must be where they got seeds from. I've had to drive there to collect seeds. SFASU is doing a trial of hundreds of them to find best ones for propagation. They seem to be fast growers for sure. The one at SFASU is a big one.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 8:41PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Do you think A. skutchii would survive in MD?

I don't know why, but I find all these genetically isolated, disjunct populations of Sugar Maple and Co. very interesting.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 10:49PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

To add to my above comment (sorry to go a bit off-topic), there's a very interesting (to me) connection between A. barbatum and A. saccharum (other than the obvious)...if you put their range maps together they're almost contiguous but pretty much don't actually overlap. Barbatum just continues where saccharum leaves off.

Also - although barbatum is thought of as a smaller tree, and generally is, the state champions of AL, NC, SC (and possibly other states) are as big as any northern Sugar Maple-over 100'.

Furthermore, I've seen both the "Sandersville" (AKA Harvest Moon) sugar maple & the Caddo maples refered to as barbatums instead of saccharums. I've also seen some nurseries call Sandersville a barbatum/saccharum cross.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 8:22AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Hair Metal,

Throw in Acer grandidentatum in Texas. We have Lost Maple Forest full of 'Texas' sugar maples in central Texas. Makes me wonder if it used to be widespread population of sugar maple in the old days. Now that we live a lot closer to the park, we need to visit it in the fall.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lost Maple Forest park

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 8:46AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

To a casual tree lover (not insane geeks like us) ALL those trees would simply be identified as "sugar maple".

Hard to believe those fall scenes exist in Texas!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 9:22AM
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j0nd03

Hair, your zone 7 is much milder with more abundant summer precip than mine. I think a. skutchii would be a great experiment for your location. Cold hardiness will be a major point of interest for both of us.

"I don't know why, but I find all these genetically isolated, disjunct populations of Sugar Maple and Co. very interesting."

Yeah, me too. I will eventually spread barbatum, caddo, and chalk maple seed and seedlings around in my oak/hickory woods and see what happens.

Also, if you go off topic in your own topic, it is by default on topic ;-)

Lou, after I placed my order and doing some research, I also came to the assumption SFAU is the most likely source of my tree. If their samples are growing as fast as mine, it will be stellar addition to all locations it is hardy in.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 9:23AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

If I had the land and the time, I'd plant a handful of the better saccharum cultivars, plus a few black, barbatum, grandidentatum, schuktii (not sure I'm spelling it right- the Mexican sugar maple), A. leucoderme, some Caddo maples, etc and let them all interbreed naturally to see what pops up.

I'm in an area where pretty much all of those trees *should* survive and grow well enough to reach reproductive age (not sure about the Mexican sugar being hardy enough though).

That said, I'm not sure the bloom times would sync between all of them, being of different regions, they'd have different chilling and heat unit requirements to break dormancy.

What we probably have are the isolated remnants of a much more massive and genetically diverse population of Sugar maple (or the common ancestor) from millions of years ago. It would be fun to bring those genes back together.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 9:26AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

Chalk maple should do fine in west NC in full sun -- that's in its native range. Should be able to grow far outside that range. Trunk remains smooth/chalky-whitish-gray for many yrs.

From the few I've seen, should grow similarly to, perhaps a bit slower, than standard sugar maple.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 10:00AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

j0nd03, yes, I think at least from the perspective of all-time record highs and lows, my climate is milder than yours, even though average temperatures overall are probably similar. In other words, your hot days are hotter and cold days colder.

Considering that Chalk Maple is considered hardy to zone 5, which is far colder than even most of the mountainous areas of NC that it's native to, I wouldn't be surprised if the Mexican Sugar Maple is similarly hardy - as if they still have deep in their genetic code the ability to tolerate far colder temperatures than currently exist in their native range.

I think baldcypress shows a similar tendency. In fact, a lot of southern natives are much hardier than their native range would suggest - both native Catalpas, Southern Magnolia, Nutall oak...even live oak to a limited degree, just some off-the-cuff examples. I think it dates back to the last Ice Age really-they evolved a strong cold tolerance that never went away as the climate warmed.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 11:38AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Oh, and FWIW, although, if you believe the official range maps, we're technically about ~15-~25 miles SE of the edge of Acer saccharums native range, the planted ones that are extremely abundant here have no problem spreading their seeds & those seeds sprouting and growing.

The empty house next door to me that is being remodeled had a 2" caliper sugar maple sapling yanked out of a permanent (built into the porch) raised bed the other day (I'd have tried to dig it myself had I known it was there) that was obviously a seed that sprouted itself. You also see them popping their little heads up over the boxwood and azalea plantings around here sometimes.

So I'm sure a mixed planting as you and I both suggest could yield some interesting crosses 15 or so years from now. Who knows...there might be a genetic combination that could create a tree far more able to dominate our forests than what we have now (since A. saccharum is a minor component in MD even where it is native, except at some high elevations in the far western part of the state).

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 11:52AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Question - what does an open-grown Chalk Maple end up shaped like? Does it end up a rounded oval, basically a mini Sugar Maple, or does it have a different shape?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 11:17AM
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