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Curious about Trident Maples

Posted by retiredprof 7 (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 14, 10 at 9:04

While reading through posts, I often notice mention of tridents. Although I do have JMs, I'm unfamiliar with these.

An internet search reveals that they are excellent bonsai subjects as well as small/medium landscape trees. What about growing in containers as a patio tree? They are quite beautiful and appear to be relatively easy to grow. And, they are certainly less $$$ than JMs.

Thoughts or insights? Are there particular varieties that are better suited to container growing?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Curious about Trident Maples

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 14, 10 at 10:53

Acer buergeranum is probably the most widely grown maple for bonsai, with all the cultivars being suitable as subjects. They are VERY easy to maintain, responding exceptionally well to pruning above and below ground. Unlike most varieties of A. palmatum, they are also very easy to propagate from cuttings (most varieties), so forest and clump/grove plantings are also easy/inexpensive. All cultivars should be hardy to your zone. 'Mino Yatsabusa' is a densely foliated dwarf variety, and exceptional in containers, though you might wish to grow it in in the ground to put on some size before you put it in a container. It grows slowly and is difficult to propagate by cuttings, though it does air-layer readily, and seeds produce very interesting crosses.


RE: Curious about Trident Maples

My friends and I grow them.

It turned out that a buddy of mine had tens of Trident-leafed maple seedlings sprouting
in his yard every year. So I collected one in July of 2008 - and simply slipped the little
tree into a black nursery pot full of Bark with a bit of Perlite (I didn't have the fancy grit
back then).

My collection was successful, so last July we collected five more seedlings. I kept another,
my buddy gave one to his dad and to a friend of ours, and then he himself kept two nice trees.
This Spring, when I pruned my second tree, I stuck the cutting back into the pot. It rooted, too,
and is even now changing color - a bright, champagne pink. My trees are growing at least 3 feet
a season, even with much pruning throughout.

My trees are probably not the best "type" of Trident maple - they have largish leaves....
but they're probably not the worst, either. To answer your question, yes, there are particular
types of Trident that make better container trees, bonsai, or yardscape trees. In the past, Al (Tapla)
has posted on the varieties and their attributes (positive and negative).


RE: Curious about Trident Maples

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 14, 10 at 11:27

One of the things I didn't mention was the tendency for the leaves to reduce in size as the number of growing points increases. I have 'Tancho' in containers and growing on in the ground. This variety initially and consistently produces leaves almost as large as my hand when young, but the leaves readily reduce to 3/4" and smaller as the trees age. The same will be true of your species trees, Josh. All you need to do is worry about taper & nice roots. BTW - roots are easily grafted to the trunk in appropriate places by using cuttings grafted to the trunk, which can then be removed so only their roots remain (for non-bonsai folks, this is an appearance thing. A strong root buttress makes the tree look very old). Thread grafting for perfect branch placement, using either branch whips or cuttings started specifically for the purpose of building branches, is so common it's practically considered an integral part of bringing a trident to fruition.


RE: Curious about Trident Maples

Very interesting! Thank you, Al!

I have noticed that the leaves on my trees are reducing, so I am hopeful.
I'd never thought of grafting roots (cuttings) to improve the nebari...!
I learn something every day.

As of this afternoon, my Trident's have completely flushed with Fall color...
Dark purple at the top, pale pink at the bottom.


RE: Curious about Trident Maples


You know how much I love these and how much I love a particular one you have growing...:-)

I have enjoyed looking at your pictures of these trees that are so pretty, and very happy in your care..

Maybe if you post a couple here, it would add flavor to an otherwise very nice thread..Beautiful.


RE: Curious about Trident Maples

Sure thing, Mike ;)

I think I might have a couple pics around here somewhere. I hope these will help convince a few others
to give Acer buergerianum a go! This is what the seedlings look like in their first year.
I collected this little guy (my first) in June of 2008:


And here it is approximately two years later. Note, I've pruned off nearly 5 feet of apical growth this year.
That's a four-foot measuring stick, for reference. I can't wait to chop it down again!


Lastly, a Trident I collected last Summer. I cut the leader off this Spring, and rooted the very tip in the same pot.
I'll separate the plants in late Winter...and I'll be sending the rooted cutting off to Mike ;)


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