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How to Prune Trident Maple

Trident maple trees (Acer buergeranum) can grow as high as 45 feet tall and 30 feet wide. They are slow to moderate growers that need sun and well drained soil. The leaves are simple and turn into bright fall colors later in the season than other maples. They cope with wind, salt and drought well but may become damaged in ice storms. Trident maple's crown grows in a low and spreading fashion. It's relatively low maintenance which makes it a favorite porch or street tree. Pruning trident maple is essential to develop a strong structure and improve the tree's health.

Use pruning shears to cut off new shoots and growth. Make clean cuts without tearing the bark. Saw off thicker limbs and branches with a pruning saw.

Remove weak, broken, diseased and dead limbs as soon as you notice them. Cut them off where they connect with other limbs, making the cut on healthy wood.

Prune major lateral branches to prevent them from becoming weak. Cutting them off will keep them from growing larger than half the diameter of the trident maple's main trunk.

Trim off any limbs attached with weak crotches, or small angles. Also remove shoots that are competing with the trunk or central leader of the tree. Double or multiple leaders weaken the trident maple and could cause it to split apart.

Climb the ladder and look through the canopy for limbs that are blocking sunlight and air circulation from getting to other branches. Remove those that are crossing or rubbing against each other.

Amur Vs. Trident Maple Trees

Amur maple has 3-lobed leaves, with the middle lobe longer than the others and tapering to a sharp point. The large multistemmed shrub or small tree can grow 15 to 18 feet in height, with an equal spread. Trident maple features leaves that are 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 inches long, with 3 lobes apiece. The flowers are relatively insignificant green-yellow fluffy umbels or flat-topped flowerheads. Seeds are borne in winged samaras that are 3/4 to 1 inch long. The bark is a ruddy gray-brown and develops an exfoliating or pealing character as the tree matures. Both trees are easy to transplant and do best in full sun. The two trees provide bright fall color. Both grow at a slow to medium rate, gaining 12 inches or less per year. It is suitable for growing in a large container. The exfoliating bark contributes winter interest. Breeders have created more cultivated varieties of Amur maple than of the Trident species.


Use gloves when pruning trees.


Do not overly prune maple trees. Removing too much of the foliage will cause damage.

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