Gardening: 'Regal Petticoat' Maple offers fine colors

Nancy Szerlag
Special to The Detroit News

If you're one of the many homeowners who lost shade trees this year and are in the market for a replacement, I have a good candidate — the "Regal Petticoat" Maple (Acer Pseudoplatanus), discovered in eastern Canada in 2002. Acer Pseudoplatanus, commonly called a Sycamore Maple because of the shape of its leaves, is no relation to the Sycamore, so don't be confused. 'Regal Petticoat' is a very special patented maple cultivar.

I first saw "Regal Petticoat" at American Tree Nursery in Almont (810) 798-2525;, and its color caught my eye. And that superior leaf color is its real claim to fame. In summer it's clothed in rich, dark, glossy green leaves coated with deep, velvety purple on their undersides. When the winds ruffle the leaves, the tree puts on an elegant show. Regal Petticoat also puts on an incredible fall display as the leaves turn aspen yellow on the top surface and a bright magenta pink accented with reds, orange and salmon underneath.

"Regal Petticoat" has the potential of growing into a 20- to 40-foot-high vase shaped structure with a spreading canopy width of 30 feet that will enhance any landscape with the space to accommodate it.

There have been no seeds found to date, indicating those irritating spinners may be a thing of the past where this beauty is planted. High resistance to many of the common diseases that have attacked maple trees of late, including the ugly tar spot that plagued homeowners for several seasons, is another huge benefit. Salt and wind tolerance also make it a perfect choice for commercial plantings and street trees. Unlike red maples and other trees that resent being planted in the alkaline soils that tend to dominate the landscape in southeastern Michigan, 'Regal Petticoat' is not fussy about soils or pH and will not become chlorotic.

Dave Soulliere of the Landscape Source in Macomb, (586) 677-7480;, says these trees also seem to be animal proof. He overwintered over a hundred Regal PCs last winter and not a trunk showed animal damage, in spite of the fact they were not wrapped.

Those concerned about global warming and the future of Maples trees in Michigan will be pleased to know that a "Regal Petticoat" Maple planted in Arizona a few years ago is thriving, which says a great deal about its adaptability to weather. Once established, this tree is both heat and drought tolerant, but is cold hardy to Zone 3.

To find a source for the "Regal Petticoat" Maple in your area, go to

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and a Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question, go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at