Acer × freemanii A.E. Murray

TSO logo

Sponsor

Kindly sponsored by
a member of the International Dendrology Society

Credits

Dan Crowley, John Grimshaw & Ross Bayton (2024)

Recommended citation
Crowley, D., Grimshaw, J. & Bayton, R. (2024), 'Acer × freemanii' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/acer/acer-x-freemanii/). Accessed 2024-06-18.

Genus

Other taxa in genus

Glossary

hybrid
Plant originating from the cross-fertilisation of genetically distinct individuals (e.g. two species or two subspecies).
lobe
Division of a leaf or other object. lobed Bearing lobes.
Vulnerable
IUCN Red List conservation category: ‘facing a high risk of extinction in the wild’.

Credits

Dan Crowley, John Grimshaw & Ross Bayton (2024)

Recommended citation
Crowley, D., Grimshaw, J. & Bayton, R. (2024), 'Acer × freemanii' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/acer/acer-x-freemanii/). Accessed 2024-06-18.

This important maple is the result of a cross between A. rubrum and A. saccharinum, occurring naturally where the ranges of those species overlap and also produced artificially at the US National Arboretum by Oliver Freeman in 1933. Tree 20–25 m; branches upright, forming rounded or oval crown. Bark silvery grey. Leaves intermediate between parents; autumn colour red to yellow. Samaras 3–6 cm long, striated. Flowering February to March (USA). (van Gelderen et al. 1994; van Gelderen & van Gelderen 1999).

Distribution  United States Occasional where the parents overlap.

Habitat As for parent species.

USDA Hardiness Zone 4

RHS Hardiness Rating H6

Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)

Acer × freemanii is an increasingly important tree, especially in North America, with selected clones combining the best features of the two much-loved parents: the flaming reds of the autumn coloration of A. rubrum, with greater tolerance of cold and drier conditions inherited from A. saccharinum. It is also more tolerant of alkaline soils than A. rubrum (Sternberg 2004), and though it is less prone to breakage than A. saccharinum, its rapid growth still renders it vulnerable. Thus, pruning in youth is advised to aid happy establishment. Recorded as a wild plant after the first artificial cross was made (van Gelderen et al. 1994), the nothospecies is largely represented in cultivation by its cultivars. Several more modern cultivars result from deliberate crosses of named clones of the parents, as breeders seek particular combinations of attributes.

Distinguishing Acer × freemanii from its parents can be tricky, given the significant variation observed in the hybrid and the presence of backcrosses (Oregon State University 2024). Plants are generally intermediate, though typically with five-lobed leaves closer to A. saccharinum. However, the central lobe is only rarely strongly sub-lobed, rather than usually so as in A. saccharimum (Bachtell 1989). Autumn colour is variable, ranging from strong deep reds to poor yellowish greens (Bachtell 1989); the large specimen at the Savill Garden, UK, for example, offers little in the way of autumn interest (J. Anderson, pers. comm. 2024 and see images). The use of named clones is advised.

In Europe the best-known selection is ‘Jeffersred’ (sold as AUTUMN BLAZE®), capable of fabulous autumn colour, as is ‘DTR102’ (AUTUMN FANTASY®), which also colours well in warmer areas. ‘Marmo’ was selected from a male tree in the Morton Arboretum both for its superb and long-lasting autumn colour and its seedlessness. ‘Celzam’ (CELEBRATION®) is rather narrow in outline and thus particularly suited for use as a street tree. Other clones are ‘Armstrong’ and ‘Elegant’, once thought to be selections of A. rubrum and A. saccharinum respectively, but now considered to belong to Acer × freemanii. All are capable of becoming large trees.


'AF#1'

Synonyms / alternative names
Acer × freemanii 'Firefall'

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3b

A cross made at the University of Minnesota between Acer saccharinum ‘Beebe’ and A. rubrum ‘Autumn Spire’, with dissected leaves closer to the former, and the cold hardiness of the latter (Dirr & Warren 2019; Hatch 2021–2022). It is a male clone and has an upright spreading habit, becoming leggy as it ages, with red autumn colour (Dirr & Warren 2019; Hatch 2021–2022).


'Armstrong'

Common Names
Armstrong Maple

Synonyms / alternative names
Acer × freemanii 'Armstrongii'
Acer × freemanii 'Armstrong II'
Acer × freemanii 'Armstrong Two'

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

A strong growing, upright clone recommended for for urban use (van Gelderen, de Jong & Oterdoom 1994; Dirr & Warren 2019). Notably quick-growing, it can be excessively vigourous, becoming more columnar than fastigiate (van Gelderen, de Jong & Oterdoom 1994; Dirr & Warren 2019), and is looser, wider and more vigoruous than than ‘Bowhall’ or ‘JFS-KW78’ (ARMSTRONG GOLD™) (Dirr & Warren 2019). It is thus a good choice for difficult conditions where its vigour will be checked (Dirr & Warren 2019).

The ‘original’ ‘Armstrong’ was found in Ohio by Newton Amstrong (van Gelderen et al. 1994), who purchased it for $5 from a farmer at Hartgrove (Jacobson 1996). Amstrong then told Ed Scanlon about it, who propagated it in 1949, first offering it commercially via his Scanlon Nursery in 1955–56 (Jacobson 1996). Yellow to orange or red in autumn, its seasonal performance is noted as unspectacular both in Europe and Vancouver (van Gelderen et al. 1994; Justice, in prep.)

Listed under Acer rubrum by some authors, its hybrid origin was first suggested by Bachtell (1989). Seedlings reportedly look more like rubrum, suggesting that there is only little saccharinum in its parentage (Dirr & Warren 2019). It is a seed-producing clone (Justice, in prep.). The more recent ‘Armstrong Two’, marketed as superior to ‘Armstrong’, has reportedly been shown to be identical to this selection (Dirr & Warren 2019) and is treated as a synonym here.


'Bailston'

Synonyms / alternative names
Acer × freemanii MATADOR™

RHS Hardiness Rating: H7

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

Very similar to AUTUMN BLAZE®, but perhaps with better cold hardiness (Dirr & Warren 2019).


'Celzam'

Synonyms / alternative names
Acer × freemanii CELEBRATION™

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4a

Although often listed as a male clone this is reputed to produce seed (Justice, in prep.) and both male and female flowers are noted by Dirr & Warren (2019). Selected by Lake County Nursery, Ohio and introduced in 1987 (Jacobson 1996), it is fast growing but ultimately smaller than most Acer × freemanii forms, retaining a central leader better than many (Dirr & Warren 2019). Justice (in prep.) suggests it may have the most symmetrical crown of any maple. Its leaves resemble A. saccharinum more than A. rubrum in shape, turning golden to red in autumn (Jacobson 1996; Dirr & Warren 2019).


'DTR 102'

Synonyms / alternative names
Acer × freemanii AUTUMN FANTASY®

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

A female found by William Wandell of Urbana, Illinois before 1986 (Jacobson 1996). It resembles Acer saccharinum more than many other hybrid clones, though with the red autumn colour closer to its other parent (Dirr & Warren 2019). Developing an open crown, it is suggested as useful for warmer areas where its tendency towards leggy growth is checked and where many other reds don’t succeed (Dirr & Warren 2019).


'Elegant'

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

Originating at the former nursery De Bie van Aaslst Zundert, The Netherlands, this selection was first thought to belong to Acer saccharinum, and propagated by layering and sold as that species (van Gelderen, de Jong & Oterdoom 1994), Grootendorst decided that it was in fact a hybrid, showing a more compact crown than A. saccharinum. Its leaves are small and deeply lobed (van Gelderen, de Jong & Oterdoom 1994).


'Embers'

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

ˋEmberś is of unknown origin but appeared in the trade c. 1979–80; later speculation has suggested that it could be the same as ‘Morgan’ (Jacobson 1996). It is thus included here rather than under Acer rubrum, as recorded elsewhere. It develops a pyramidal then rounded form, its leaves turning deep red in autumn (Jacobson 1996).


'Jefcel'

Synonyms / alternative names
Acer × freemanii REGAL CELEBRATION™

RHS Hardiness Rating: H7

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2

A clone discovered and introduced in Manitoba and proving exceptionally hardy, developing a rounded crown and exhibiting good autumn colour. It also shows good pH tolerance (Dirr & Warren 2019).


'Jeffersred'

Synonyms / alternative names
Acer × freemanii AUTUMN BLAZE®

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

A popular tree in both North America and Europe, selected in the late 1960s by Glenn A. Jeffers of Fostoria, Ohio, from a group of seedlings (Jacobson 1996). Intermediate between its parents, it is very quick growing, developing a broad oval crown. However, multiple leaders and tight branch unions within the crown can become problematic, and the tree can become prone to storm damage. Formative pruning is advised to avoid trouble later on. Autumn colour is orange or red.


'JFS-KW78'

Synonyms / alternative names
Acer × freemanii Armstrong Gold®

RHS Hardiness Rating: H7

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

Sometimes listed as a selection of Acer rubrum, though selected from a batch of A. × freemanii ‘Armstrong’ seedlings as an improvement on its parent (Schmidt & Son Co. 2023). Fastigiate, with a tighter crown, it is recommended for use on narrow streets (Schmidt & Son Co. 2023). Its leaves are also smaller, colouring better in autumn, usually orange or golden yellow (Dirr & Warren 2019).


'Jose's Variegated'

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

Named after its discover, Jose, a propagator at Taylors Nursery of Raleigh, North Carolina, and introduced by Pat McCracken of McCracken Nursery, also Raleigh, its leaves are greyish green, outlined creamy white (Hatch 2021–2022).


'JSC Kingsone'

Synonyms / alternative names
Acer × freemanii SHELINA'S BEAUTY™

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

A very colourful selection, described by the great American authority on cultivars Larry Hatch as having leaves mottled creamy yellow, turning purple, pink, orange and red in autumn (Hatch 2021–2022).


'Lee's Red'

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

A clone with red autumn colour selected from Ontario, Canada, and introduced by Sheridan Nursery, Ontario before 1987(Jacobson 1996).


'Marmo'

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

A fast growing selection with strong, upright growth, becoming broader with age (Dirr & Warren 2019). It develops heavy but strong branching, demonstrating storm resistance (Dirr & Warren 2019). Its leaves are more toothed and lobed than many Acer × freemanii selections; traits inherited from A. saccharinum. Autumn colour varies from yellow to deep purple, depending on preceding conditions (Justice, in prep.). The original ‘Marmo’ grew at The Morton Arboretum, Illinois, thought to have come from a nursery in Wisconsin (van Gelderen, de Jong & Oterdoom 1994).


'Morgan'

Synonyms / alternative names
Acer × freemannii 'Indian Summer'
Acer rubrum 'Indian Summer'
Acer rubrum 'Morgan'

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

Selected at the Morgan Arboretum of MacDonald College, Quebec (Hatch 2021–2022). Female, it was introduced in 1972–73 by Sheridan Nursery, Ontario and is very fast growing (Hatch 2021–2022). Developing an upright crown, it is noted by Dirr & Warren (2019) as being less susceptible to storm damage than some other forms. It turns orange to deep red in autumn (Dirr & Warren 2019; Justice, in prep.).


'New World'

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

Bred at the US National Arboretum, reportedly selected from a cross between Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’ and A. × freemanii ‘Autumn Flame’ (Justice, in prep.). In circulation since 1997 (Justice, in prep.), it forms a upright crown, becoming narrowly oval with age (Dirr & Warren 2019). Male, it is noted as adaptable to many soils and reputedly has improved resistance to pests and diseases (Hatch 2021–2022; Justice, in prep.). Autumn colour is orange (Dirr & Warren 2019).


'Satzam'

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

A form introduced by Lake County Nursery, Ohio in 2003 (Hatch 2021–2022). It has an upright pyramidal form, with strong branches that show some storm resistance. It has larger leaves than typical for Acer × freemanii, turning red in autumn (Hatch 2021–2022).


'Scarsen'

Synonyms / alternative names
Acer × freemanii SCARLET SENTINEL®
Acer rubrum 'Scarsen'
Acer rubrum SCARLET SENTINEL®

RHS Hardiness Rating: H7

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

A selection derived from a tree found near Interstate 90 in Ashtabula, Ohio, by Schichtel Nursery of Orchard Park, New York, and introduced by J.F. Schmidt Nursery of Boring, Oregon in 1972 (Jacobson 1996; Hatch 2021–2022). A much-grown male form of broadly columnar habit (Jacobson 1996), it has large leaves but, although vigourous, colours unreliably, often lacking the red tints for which it was (presumably) given its tradename (Dirr & Warren 2019).


'Sienna'

Synonyms / alternative names
Acer × freemanii SIENNA GLEN™

RHS Hardiness Rating: H7

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3

A Minnesota selection with strong form and extra cold hardiness (Dirr & Warren 2019). Pyramidal in youth, it becomes broadly oval as it ages (Dirr & Warren 2019). Its leaves turn rusty orange in autumn (Dirr & Warren 2019).


'Waukesha'

RHS Hardiness Rating: H6

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

Selected from seedlings raised from wild plants found by a graduate student of Dr. Ed Hasskelkus, of the University of Wisconsin, in Waukesha County (Hatch 2021–2022). Its distinguishing characters are unknown.