Acer barbinerve - bearded maple

Bearded maple is one of Mustila’s many shrub maples. In habit it perhaps most resembles the native hazelnut (Corylus avellana). The light green stems grow tightly in a bunch, first erect and then curving outwards to give a round crown. The tips of the stems take on a rosy glow in winter, while in early spring bud burst produces bright green delicate foliage, which preserves its colour throughout the growing season.

Distinguishing bearded maple from other similar species is quite easy if you look at the undersides of the leaves, where you’ll see a sparse hairiness along the veins throughout the summer. Thus the common name in English and the scientific name in Latin. A similar hairiness occurs in spring on new shoots and on the upper leaf surfaces, but this usually disappears with the summer rains.

Like many other eastern Asian woody plants, bearded maple starts preparing for winter early. It is among the first to take on colour, usually creamy yellow but also orange at times, and has usually dropped its leaves by the time other trees and shrubs start to turn. Again typically of many maples, it prefers growing in some shade under a protective canopy in soil which remains moist, though experience at Mustila indicates it will grow successfully in herb-rich heath forest soils.

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