Large shrub or small tree 4.5 - 8 m tall, width equal to or greater than height Leaves: opposite, stalked, glossy dark green above, light green beneath, 3.5 - 7.5 cm long, oblong to egg-shaped, three-lobed (middle lobe longest), toothed. Fall color is yellow to red. Flowers: borne on loose, branched inflorescences (panicles), yellowish white, fragrant. Fruit: winged (samaras), paired, red to brown, 2 - 2.5 cm long, wings almost parallel, persisting until late fall. Bark: grayish brown, smooth when young, developing longitudinal lines. Twigs: gray and smooth, becoming striped with age. Buds: redish brown, small.
Similar species: Acer ginnala is one of the only maples with fragrant flowers. Its very long middle lobe easily distinguishes it from other three-lobed maples.
Habitat and ecology: Occasionally escapes from cultivation into old fields and pastures, vacant lots, disturbed or undisturbed woods.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Notes: A. ginnala is a cultivated species from Asia. Cultivars are often selected for their bright red fall color.
Etymology: Acer is derived from a Latin word meaning sharp, referring to the hardness of the wood. Ginnala comes from the Chinese common name for the plant.