Pretty tree with the habit of a spreading japanese maple (acer palmatum), with which it's often confused; the leaves have similar substance but are larger, rounder, and deeply lobed. Small springtime flowers dangle like dainty purple umbrellas -- quite striking close up -- but the fall transition from green to yellow to red is the big show. You may not see the full effect in some years or situations where the tree doesn't receive enough exposure to typical autumn weather. In hottest sun during summer heat waves, the outermost leaves may burn and curl just like acer palmatum and with no worse effect in my moderate climate.
This is a clean tree that drops its leaves during a short window of time. They're like light, low-flying kites in the wind, so it's easier to rake them up right away than to chase them down. Heavy rains will soon turn the dead leaves so limp that they cling like wet gauze to soil and rocks. The worry-free flowers disappear without a mess.
The multi-branching habit lends itself to attentive winter pruning and shaping to create the desired layered effect with good light penetration. Make your cuts just outside a bud that points in the direction you want. As usual, thin out twiggy interior growth and branches that conflict or grow at odd angles. Leave no stubs; they'll just produce suckers. Prune very sparingly the first year or two so there's enough foliage to promote good root establishment. While a tree is young, you can weight the pliable branches or use wooden spacers to train them in position if necessary; just don't tie them to another tree or fence, which can put too much tension on them and lead to breakage in windy conditions.
Set in a location where you can enjoy its beauty, and trained to maximize its spreading look, this can be a true specimen tree to grace a garden of any size.
I saw this tree on this year (2008) Discovery Garden Tour. It was a wonderful yellow specimen. I do not personally ow this tree yet.
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