Identify this tree

Asked September 15, 2020, 11:22 AM EDT

Can you help me identify the tree in the attached photos? It was spotted in Mackinaw City, Michigan. The photos were taken about 9/9/2020. I am a landscape contractor and I live in Ft. Worth, Texas, but I’m not familiar with it. My guess is that it’s a type of Maple, but I’m not sure. Monty Briley


7 Responses

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It looks like the shrub, ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius. While this is typically a shrub, the owners must have trained it to be a tree? I've not see that before, but it's a nice looking tree!
Thank you,

Are you sure? Did you see both photos? I agree the leaves look very similar, but a Physocarpus opulifolius only grows 5' to 8' tall. The specimen in my photos is much taller that that. Those mower tracks in the grass are 21" wide. The trunk of this plant is probably 10" and I'm estimating the height of this plant is 15' to 20'.


Hi Monty,
No, I am not sure at all. I'm a forester, and not a horticulturalist. I sent the photo to a friend who owns a nursery after I could not find any tree with those leaves in any of my resources (online and print). Double checking the leaves against ninebark and it was almost an exact match. Did you happen to get picts of the buds/twigs?
Thanks for reaching back out! I'll assign this to someone else in our system that might have a better grasp of horticultural ornamental varieties.
Thank you,

Greetings, Julie is correct, the first photo you attached is a large shrub known as Physocarpus 'Diabolo'.
The tree appears to be Acer 'Crimson King' The two plants are not related.

Let me be clear: This is NOT two different plants. BOTH photos are of the SAME specimen. Both photos are of the same 15 or 20 foot tree or very large shrub.

I am a 26-year landscape designer and contractor, but being from Texas, I am not familiar with the trees of northern Michigan.


I have confirmed with my vacationing client that both photos are indeed of the same specimen. She also said this is definitely a tree and not a small shrub. It's probably 30 to 40 feet tall and is growing in Mackinaw City, Michigan. The leaf color is now (mid-September) black or VERY dark purple.

She is still in northern Michigan and may be able to go back to get more photos.


The tree is one of the the crimson type of Norway maples (Acer platanoides) with the most common cultivar being 'Crimson King'. However, the foliage is too dark for it to be this cultivar. I conferred with one of our horticulture/forestry specialists on campus and we think it's too small for a Crimson Sentry. It might possibly the 'Royal Red' cultivar.

Hope this helps.