Invasive Amur Maple - Acer ginnala
This species has been planted because for its hardiness and  fall foliage; however it is an invasive species in the Eastern U.S.
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Amur Maple
Amur Maple - Acer ginnala
Native Origin: China, Manchuria, and Japan

Description: Amur maple is a small deciduous tree in the maple family (Aceraceae) that reaches to approximately 25 feet in height and 15 to 28 feet in width. Bark is grayish brown, smooth with darker striation furrows with age. Typically it is multi-stemmed with a spreading umbrella-shaped crown. Opposite, simple leaves with 3 lobes grow 2 to 4 inches in length and have a bright green color turning yellow to scarlet red in fall. Panicle of fragrant, long-stemmed, pale yellow or creamy, tall flower clusters appear in early spring when leaves are also present. Paired winged seeds are 3/4 to 1 inches long, hanging at very tight angles or nearly parallel and are dispersed to the wind when seeds ripen in early fall.

Habitat: This is one of the hardiest of the maple species. It can grow in full sun or partial shade and prefers moist, well drained soils, but also tolerates dryness and soil pH of 6.1 to 7.5. It is salt tolerant and hardy in zones 3 to 8.

Distribution: This species is reported from states shaded on Plants Database map. It is reported invasive in CT, IL, MA, MO, NY, VT, and WI.

Ecological Impacts: This species has been planted because for its hardiness and brilliant red, scarlet or orange fall foliage; however it has escaped cultivation. It is an invasive species in the Eastern Region. It has the potential to displace native shrubs and under story trees in open forests, and shades out native species in prairie habitats.

Control and Management:
• Manual- Hand pulling, cutting, prescribed burning
• Chemical- It can be effectively controlled using any of several readily available general use herbicides such as Glyphosate. Follow label and state requirements.


Distribution Map

Invasive Species on National Forests / Invasive Plants
The United States has about 2,000 non-native invasive plant species, which are concentrated in California, Florida, and Hawaii (Mitchell 2000). On non-croplands in the midwestern states, one Forest Service researcher estimates that 14 percent of the plant species are non-native invasive plants. Trend data from the 19th century to the present indicates a significant escalation in the percentages of non-native invasive plants in the last half of the 20th century. An estimated 3.5 million acres of National Forest System lands are infested with invasive weeds, according to the 2000 RPA assessment, which summarized local estimates from individual national forests. However, local estimates vary widely, and the agency lacks a comprehensive inventory for either terrestrial (land) or aquatic areas infested with invasive species. The Framework for Invasive Species calls for expanding inventory and monitoring activities to identify more invasive insects, pathogens and plants .
Some species of particular concern to Forest Service managers are leafy spurge, knapweeds and starthistles, saltcedar, non-indigenous thistles, purple loosestrife, and cheatgrass in the West and garlic mustard, kudzu, Japanese knotweed, Tree-of-heaven, and purple loosestrife and hydrilla in the East (5).

Insect Damage and Disease
Insect damage and plant disease are natural disturbances that are part of a healthy, functioning ecosystem, along with fire and wind damage. However, both native and non-native insects and diseases have caused above normal mortality rates on forested lands in the United States. Some 58 million acres or 8 percent of forested land are at risk for mortality rates that exceed the norm by 25 percent or more . High mortality rates can accelerate the development of high fuel-loading in fire-dependent forests, effectively remove important ecosystem elements, and reduce private property values. The highest profile exotic insects and diseases include Asian Longhorn Beetle, Emerald ash borer, Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight, white pine blister rust, Port-Orford cedar root disease, European gypsy moth, hemlock wooly adelgid, and beech bark disease. Aside from the potential economic loss from timber volume, many wildlife and fish species are dependent on the ecosystems affected by these invasive insects and diseases (6).

International context
Invasive species negatively affect natural ecosystems throughout the world by out-competing native flora and fauna for resources and growing space. Because there are often no biological controls on their growth, invasive species spread quickly and negatively impact threatened and endangered species. At least 4,500 nonnative plant, animal, and microbe species were established in the United States during the 19th century, and about 15 percent of these are considered harmful.

Many invasive species arrive in the United States through international trade. Therefore, the Forest Service must work with international partners to (1) stem the flow of invasive species into the country, (2) discern and apply biological controls for invasives that have already established and spread, and (3) protect island ecosystems, which are especially vulnerable due to their high percentage of unique species and evolutionary isolation. -- From the USDA Forest Service, Forest Health Staff, Newtown Square, PA. WOW 05-09-05

Further reading:

  1. http://plants.usda.gov
  2. www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/treeselector
  3. www.fs.fed.us/r9/wildlife/range/weed/Sec3B.htm
  4. www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/treesnew/acer_ginnala.html
  5. www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/a/acegin/acegin1.html
  6. http://web1.msue.msu.edu/msue/iac/greentip/gt1159.pdf
  7. www.easywildflowers.com/invasive.htm
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Family Aceraceae - Maples
The Maples are some of our most familiar and beloved trees.  Most are native to the far east: China, Japan, Korea, Manchuria. Maples produce a distinctive winged fruit called a samara, also commonly known as helicopters or whirlybirds.
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