The Barnes Arboretum is known for cultivating plants that don’t fare as well elsewhere in Pennsylvania. At the Arboretum in Merion, we have recently identified 18 state champion trees, which are the largest of their species within the state.
Chinese Money Maple
Dipteronia sinensis was discovered in 1888 by Augustine Henry, a famous Irish doctor, forestry professor, and author who explored the flora of China. Dipteronia is endemic to mainland China, and is in the soapberry family Sapindaceae, as well as being related to the maples. It is a threatened species in its natural habitats per the IUCN Red List. Our specimen was procured in 1970 from Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Its Chinese name is jin qian feng, and in French it’s called érable d'or et d'argent—“gold and silver maple;” it lacks an English name other than Chinese money maple. It was introduced to Western cultivation in 1900 when plant explorer Ernest Wilson sent it to the Veitch Nurseries in England. It reached the United States in the 1930s, but still remains little-known and rarely planted. The name Dipteronia is from the Greek di, meaning double or two, and pteron, a wing or feather—each seed has two wings, rather than the one of closely related maples in the genus Acer. Aside from fossil species, at present only two species of Dipteronia are known: Dipteronia sinensis, and the rarer, shrubbier, larger-seeded D. dyeriana. It is prized ornamentally for its elegant foliage; the pinnately compound leaves are exquisitely toothed and laid out with telling points. The seeds, especially when purplish-red in late summer, are a wonderful visual treat.
For more information on Dipteronia and our other specimens, check out our tree map.
The State Champion Tree Program is monitored by the Pennsylvania Forestry Association.