The Paperbark Maple (Acer Griseum) Care Guide

The Paperbark Maple, otherwise known as the Acer Griseum or Acer nikoense (Miq.) Maxim. var. griseum Franch, is a rather well known tree plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Best known for its low maintenance and slow growth, this tree will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, taking care of your Paperbark Maple is not too difficult – as long as you follow our guidelines in this Paperbark Maple Care Guide. Now let’s get started.

The fundamental caring guidelines for every Paperbark Maple can be summed up into the following:

  • Water: The Paperbark Maple wants regular watering to enhance fruit production but as a landscape plant, too much water will be a problem.
  • Light: Keep your Acer Griseum in an environment where it can receive partial shade to full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Paperbark Maple in soil with moist but well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

That’s it – sunlight, water and soil! The basic 3 fundamentals for all plant care, and with the Paperbark Maple this is no exception. With these three elements, your leafy friend will live healthy and happy.

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Paperbark Maple belongs to the Sapindaceae family, the genus Acer and the species Griseum, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Acer Griseum (AY-ser GRIS-ee-um).

The Sapindaceae family also includes other plants like Seiryu Japanese Maple, Acer Palmatum, Full Moon Maple ‘Aureum’, Fort Mcnair Red Horse Chestnut, Crimson King Norway Maple, Acer Rubrum ‘Frank Jr.’ Plant Patent #16769, Acer Palmatum ‘Osakazuki’, Aesculus Parviflora and Fernleaf Full-Moon Maple.

As with other Acer’s, the Paperbark Maple is a deciduous plant, which means it will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes.

Growing Region

The Paperbark Maple is a plant native to Central China.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend to always keep in mind your plants’ native region and environment, since these are the conditions that your Paperbark Maple is most accustomed to, thus where it can most favorably.

With this in mind, the Acer Griseum will be most used to the heat zones in the 1 – 8 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b and the ideal climate zone is between 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Paperbark Maple is a relatively slow grower, which makes things easy for any plant enthusiast.


But what exactly does this mean for your Paperbark Maple? How large a pot should you consider, how tall, how wide can it get? Let’s jump in…

The Acer Griseum can grow up to 20′ – 30′ (6m – 9m) in 20′ – 30′ (6m – 9m) and 15′ – 25′ (4.5m – 7.5m) in 15′ – 25′ (4.5m – 7.5m). 

Also, expect it to grow in a wonderful rounded shape, which is something worthwhile to remember when making your garden landscape plans.


In terms of watering, the Paperbark Maple is a fairly complicated plant to take care of. This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Acer Griseum wants regular watering to enhance fruit production but as a landscape plant, too much water will be a problem.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Paperbark Maple in soil with moist but well-draining to well draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage, and moist properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

However, in our experience, the best solution to knowing the right amount of water for your Paperbark Maple is with the ‘thumb’ technique. Basically, you insert your finger into the soil, and based if you feel the soil moist or dry, you determine if it needs any water, which is the most appropriate way to go about watering your leafy friend.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Paperbark Maple prefers to have soil with good drainage, and moist properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

This is why most experts agree that the Paperbark Maple requires soil with clay, loam (silt), and sand, which will give you the right conditions it needs.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably alkaline, acid or neutral soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Paperbark Maple requires partial shade to full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this tree will do well as long as you keep it in partial to full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Acer Griseum in little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to full and direct sun (more 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


Being a deciduous plant, the Paperbark Maple will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes. But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (early, mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), the fall, and during the winter.


You can expect your Paperbark Maple to flower around the spring months from April to June (spring).

The Paperbark Maple produces some small green and flowers around this time of year.


The leaves from the Paperbark Maple have a beautiful green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a compound (pinnately, bipinnately, palmately) arrangement with a opposite organization in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Acer Griseum to be around (3-6 inches) in size.

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The Paperbark Maple is well known for its tolerance to clay soil, and animals like deer, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Acer Griseum will be fine.


How should you then organize your garden to include your new Paperbark Maple? Here are some recommendations by expert gardeners.

Most Acer Griseum owners agree that this tree will look great in most asian/zen and rustic gardens of all types. Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of informal and cottage, city and courtyard, and in traditional garden styles. 

In particular, the Paperbark Maple’s best location within your garden is in beds and borders, others use it for landscaping in a urban garden, mass planting, specimen, or a woodland garden.

Companion Plants

Paperbark Maple’s do well with some other plants beside it. One good companion plant is the Carex, which will pair up nicely with your leafy friend.

Others consider that a nice Ophiopogon will work well too, so choose whichever you find works best for you!


So that’s it! These are the main plant care requirements that you need to keep in mind in order to have a healthy Paperbark Maple in your garden or home.

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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