Autumn Blaze Maple

The Autumn Blaze Maple is a cultivar of the Red Maple.

Autumn Blaze’ – Rounded oval form with leaves that resemble the silver maple. The fall color is orange red and persists longer than usual.

It is an especially pretty tree in the fall.  It is known for being fairly fast growing, up to 4 feet per year in Wisconsin.  It grows about as fast as the silver maple, yet it is said that it does not have the same weaknesses of the Silver maple.  The Autumn Blaze is not the first cultivar of the red maple by a long shot, here is a short list of some of the other cultivars and there basic attributes:

  • Armstrong’ – Columnar to fastigate in shape with silvery bark and modest orange to red fall foliage
  • Autumn Flame’ – A fast grower with exceptional bright red fall color developing early. The leaves are also smaller than the species.
  • Autumn Radiance’ – Dense oval crown with an orange-red fall color
  • Autumn Spire’ – Broad columnar crown; red fall color; very hardy
  • Bowhall’ – Conical to upright in form with a yellow-red fall color
  • Burgundy Bell’ – Compact rounded uniform shape with long lasting, burgundy fall leaves
  • Columnare’ – An old cultivar growing to 20 metres (70 ft) with a narrow columnar to pyramidal form with dark green leaves turning orange and deep red in fall
  • Gerling’ – A compact, slow growing selection, this individual only reaches 10 metres (30 ft) and has orange-red fall foliage
  • Northwood’ – Branches are at a 45 degree angle to the trunk, forming a rounded oval crown. Though the foliage is deep green in summer, its orange-red fall color is not as impressive as other cultivars.
  • October Brilliance’ – This selection is slow to leaf in spring, but has a tight crown and deep red fall color
  • October Glory’ – Has a rounded oval crown with late developing intense red fall foliage. Along with ‘Red Sunset’, it is the most popular selection due to the dependable fall color and vigorous growth.
  • Red Sunset’ – The other very popular choice, this selection does well in heat due to its drought tolerance and has an upright habit. It has very attractive orange-red fall color and is also a rapid and vigorous grower.
  • Scarlet Sentinel’ – A columnar to oval selection with 5-lobed leaves resembling the silver maple. The fall color is yellow-orange to orange-red and the tree is a fast grower.
  • Schlesingeri’ – A tree with a broad crown and early, long lasting fall color that a deep red to reddish purple. Growth is also quite rapid.
  • Shade King’ – This fast growing cultivar has an upright-oval form with deep green summer leaves that turn red to orange in fall.
  • V.J. Drake’ – This selection is notable because the edges of the leaves first turn a deep red before the color progresses into the center.

The Autumn Blaze Maple, frequently called an ABM has been shown to not have the same level of problems with girdled roots that the Norway Maple had.  The ABM has become a very popular front yard tree in the midwest and often commands a premium price for trees that have matured several years.  I’ve seen an ABM as old as 15+ years being sold for transplant, with a price tag of around $2,000.  Pretty expensive tree, but I am sure it is not that bad for some people when you consider the size of the tree and the amount of instant shade it give you.  Still hard to beat the $10 ABM’s I planted last year.  There were skinny little things likely right about a year old.  They were completely root bound in 1 gallon pots.  After planting, they seemed to ride out the rest of the summer without incident, however, I can’t really say that they grew much at all.  I was pleased to see that atleast one of my ABM’s is showing signs of life (shown at end of this post).

This years growing season should prove to be very interesting. We have many trees and bushes that we planted last year that have a great start. I really hope we have a nice wet spring to help move things forward. I hope our need for water this year is primary limited to the garden, as water bills soared into the hundreds of dollars a month last summer. The garden is in raised beds, and takes comparatively little water to the rest of the plants and trees in the yard. I am looking forward to seeing our hostas grow as well. We collected dozens of varieties of hostas last year and planted them all over the yard. There is a particularly impressive collection of hostas under our Ash tree, that I am looking forward to showing off once they come up.

Bud on an Autumn Blaze Maple (ABM) Neenah, WI 3-21-2010

Bud on an Autumn Blaze Maple (ABM) Neenah, WI 3-21-2010

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