Key identifying features.. Tall, narrow
maple cultivar with deeply cut leaves, some red stems, gray bark.
Common name.. Armstrong maple
Scientific name.. Acer x freemanii
Mature height.. 50 to 70 feet
Mature spread.. 15 feet
Form.. Narrow, oval.
Fruit.. In theory, samaras would take
flight in spring, but this tree is fruitless. However, female clones exist that do produce fruit.
Flowers.. Small, red flowers, topped
with bright yellow, in early spring.
|Armstrong maple flower
Foliage.. Deciduous; green in summer,
yellow to orange in fall. Leaves are 5-lobed, deeply cut, opposite, simple, tending toward the characteristics of this tree's
silver maple parent, but also exhibiting characteristics of its other parent: red maple; leaf stems are often red.
Growth rate.. Fast; more than 2 feet
a year. See the Street Tree growth chart.
Culture.. Adapts to many soil types,
is drought and pollution tolerant once established, prefers full sun with a little afternoon shade.
Best time to prune.. When dormant, or,
later in summer after the leaves have reached full size.
Fun Fact.. According to Arthur Lee Jacobson,
of "North American Landscape Trees," Newton G. Armstrong of Armstrong Tree Service in Windsor, Ohio, bought the original specimen
for $5 from a farmer near Hartgrove, Ohio. In 1948, Mr. Armstrong introduced the tree to Ed Scanlon, of Scanlon Nursery, where
the tree was propagated and offered in quantity starting in 1955.
Julie's Comments.. When
these trees were planted by the township, I was told they were October Glory red maples. I now know they are not, though I
actually suspected this by the time the leaves emerged that first spring. They simply weren't shaped like the leaves on my
October Glory. Red maples have red twigs and buds in winter, red flowers in spring, leaf stems that are often red, and most
red maple trees turn brilliant deep orange or red in fall, though some do turn yellow. The two trees planted along the street
at my property, turn yellow to pale orange in fall. This alone is indication that they are not October Glory red maples! But,
an interesting tidbit about trees is that sometimes trees have a specific fall color for several years, and then gradually
or suddenly switch to a different color.
In any given year, a tree's fall color is dependent on many factors: nighttime and midday temperature variation, abundance
or lack of rain, and whether or not there are many sunny days or many cloudy ones. The best fall display occurs during years
when the spring is warm and wet, the summer is normally rainy (not too much, but not too little), and fall days are sunny
and warm while the nights are cool but not freezing. Check out the portraits of my October Glory red maple and Red Sunset red maple during the fall of 2002. Those stunning colors are a result of Mother Nature providing all the perfect conditions for a breath-taking
Planting date.. March
2000. These two maples were planted by the township's Shade Tree Commission from stock that arrived on an 18-wheeler along
with dozens of other burlap ball trees in the planting project for that spring. Both of mine were about eight feet tall at
planting time, with 1-inch trunks. A tree from that planting project planted around the corner from my house has since died.
Update.. April 2006.
For a long time, I had posted in my diary that I considered these two trees to be red maples. Since the people who planted
them told me they were red maples, I believed them. The trees came with no tags or printed information. I have used deductive
reasoning, and help from my tree friends, to determine an identification for these trees, and while I can't guarantee that
these trees are truly the 'Armstrong' freeman maple cultivar, I fully believe that they are. However, the landscape map still
has them drawn and listed as "red maples." I should probably change that. For decades, Armstrong maples were considered red
maples, and sold as such in the nursery trade. But, according to Ohio State University Extension, 'Armstrong' maple is not
a red maple, but a freeman maple. The book, "Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Culture, and Use," (Delmar, Jan. 1994)
by Ferrell M. Bridwell, agrees.
DO OVER?.. Yes. However,
the rest of the trees that have been planted along my street by the township are far-spreading Sycamores. Many of them were
planted in 1920 and while the trees form a glorious arcing canopy over the road, they are now beginning their decline. The
narrow red maples in front of my house just don't seem to fit in. On the other hand, it's nice to have a variety and they
will grow tall very fast. Personally, I would not have put a tall maple tree directly underneath a powerline! If I had it
to do over, I'd request that the Shade Tree Commission plant smaller trees that wouldn't interfere with the power lines. Even
so, I am not about to argue my way out of free summer shade on the burning black top of my driveway. So, Shade Tree Commission,
if you're out there in cyber space reading this, thank you for my maple trees! I promise to take good care of them.