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three-flower maple

acer triflorumthree-flower maple, Acer triflorum

Scientific Name

Acer is Latin for “sharp” and may also be from the Celtic ac, which means “hard,” in reference to the wood; triflorum is Latin for “three-flowers” and refers to the small flower clusters.

Common Name

Three-flower maple is named for the yellow flowers that are in clusters of three.


Three-flower maple grows in hill and mountain regions of Manchuria, Korea, and northern China. It was first described in 1901 and introduced into cultivation in 1923.


Not native to Kentucky.


Growth Habit and Form

Three-flower maple is a small deciduous tree that typically grows 20 to 30 feet in height with a comparable spread. Trees are upright and spreading with a dense, delicately branched crown.


Leaves are trifoliate, meaning comprised of three leaflets, and opposite. The leaflets are oval to lance-shaped and dark green and slightly fuzzy above. Dark green leaves change to rich yellow and red in the fall.


Yellowish-green flowers are in clusters of 3 and somewhat inconspicuous. Flowers bloom in spring and are pollinated by insects.


The winged fruit is a brownish-yellow samara, with a woody, hairy nutlet. Fruits are scattered by gravity or wind.


Three-flower maple has vertically peeling ash-brown to almost golden amber bark. The bark is an outstanding feature.


Landscape Use

Three-flower maple is a real treasure for the discerning gardener and unfortunately rare in cultivation. Trees are well suited for small areas and can be used as specimens, in borders or as street trees. Three-flower maple has appealing bark and fall color.

Hardiness Zone

Hardy in USDA zones 5 to 7.

Growth Rate

Growth rate is slow in the landscape.

Cultivation and Propagation Information

Trees grow best in moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soils. Best growth is in full sun to partial shade. Transplant ball and burlapped or from a small container in spring. Newly planted trees should be kept moist. Three-flower maple may be propagated by seed, but the rate of seed viability is usually very low.

Diseases and Insects

Three-flower maple has no serious insect or disease problems.

Wildlife Considerations

Maple trees provide homes, shelter and food for wildlife.

Maintenance Practices

No special tending.


Three-flower maple is an outstanding small specimen maple.