The Amur Maackia tree originates from a diverse geographic area that includes Japan, the Korean peninsula, northeast China and far eastern Russia. Its’ native habitat gives clues to the tree’s durability. The Amur Maackia adapts easily to a number of weather and soil conditions. It is often found in shallow soils over rocks along bodies of water. In its’ native habitat the Amur Maackia is often subjected to periodic root flooding alternating with dry conditions. Because these are also common environmental extremes found in urban soils and settings, the Amur Maackia adjusts nicely in many landscape conditions. The Amur Maackia is a member of the legume family and is one of the few trees that support nitrogen fixing bacteria on its’ roots. This helps the tree to survive in soil that is alkaline or nutrient deficient. Less than ideal conditions are often found in urban planting sites. The ability of the Amur Maackia to survive and flourish in these conditions makes it a highly desirable tree in the landscape.

The Amur Maackia has a number of wonderful characteristics.  The multi-divided leaflets resemble those of a Black Locust tree and are grey/green when young, maturing to a dark green color. The leaves fall in autumn without much noticeable color change. The tree bears creamy white, pea-like flowers in late June/early July, when few other trees are in bloom. The flower fragrance is similar to freshly mowed grass or alfalfa. Fruits are flat brown pods, 2-3 inches long and appear after the tree has finished blooming. The most significant feature of the Amur Maackia is also considered the tree’s most attractive quality. The shiny, copper bark of the Amur Maackia peels loose with age. The bark peels into lovely flakes and curls.  This feature is especially noticeable during the dormant season when the leaves have dropped from the tree.

The versatility of the Amur Maackia makes it ideal in most landscape settings. This includes highway median plantings, parking lot islands and even planted in containers. For optimal tree health and growth, ensure the Amur Maackia is planted in a sunny location. The Amur Maackia is a slow growing tree that ultimately reaches 20-30 feet high and 15-25 feet wide. It’s hardy in USDA Climate Zones 3-7, which makes the Amur Maackia perfect for the Chicago area. In addition, the Amur Maackia is not bothered by any serious disease or insect pests. Keep in mind the smooth, coppery-colored bark on the tree trunk and limbs are vulnerable to lawn mower and trimmer damage. Protect the tree by establishing a mulch ring around the trunk to keep a distance between lawn equipment and the tree.

Amur Maackia is available at some local nurseries, but may require some searching. Because the Amur Maackia has so many desirable characteristics, it deserves a permanent place on our “diversified urban tree species list” for planting.

Harold Hoover
Kramer Tree Specialists
Board Certified Master Arborist  IL-1478B

 

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