Amur Maackia, first thing that I asked when I heard about this tree is where did that name come from. You may have heard of Amur Maple, or Amur Cherry. There is an Amur River Valley region in Northeastern China near the Russian border from which we obtained several trees sturdy enough for our climate. Maackia is in honour of Richard Maack, a Russian naturalist who researched and collected seed in that area in the mid-1800s.
I’m always drawn to what makes a tree unique and valuable. I’m particularly interested in its appearance. Does it contribute beauty to the landscape? This tree grows to approximately 20 ft in our climate. When the tree leafs out in spring it appears to have frost on all the leaves. It has a beautiful silver tone as the leaves unfurl. The leaves are compound, like a Manchurian Ash, but are smaller.
Another strong feature of this tree is that it blooms, and when it blooms they’re exceptional! Few floral trees in our climate bloom in mid July! The flowers are significant white spikes approximately 4 – 6″ long. The tree is quite prolific, and the blooms cover it well. The other feature of its beauty would be the coppery tone of its bark.
This tree is in the legume family. The seeds look like flat small pea pods only 2″ (5 cm) long. It has the capacity to draw nitrogen from the air and fixes it to the roots. This allows it to grow despite infertile soil. It is also capable of surviving dry spells, however it will not do well in soggy soil. It is considered to have a medium growth rate at about 1 ft per year. Fall colour is a less than exciting being yellow to greenish brown.
It is both cold-hardy and tolerant of our alkaline soils. It’s size makes it conducive to use as a small feature tree which is particularly helpful in small yards. There are two planted approximately 10 years ago on the north side of the Niverville Credit Union. These two specimens more than give credit to its cold, soil, and drought tolerance. They would be larger if given fertilizer and water more. This does however give credence to their resilience by their healthy existence on this difficult site!