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Ruby Dome Canyon

Phil shares some interesting facts about fall leaves.

Ruby Dome Canyon

Leaves from the same tree, different years: left, 17 Oct 2007; right, 18 Oct 2008.

Submitted by Phil Barker 11/08

This entry relates to the past, present.

Categories: Nature. 


Source tree (age, 15 yrs; 2 ¾” DBH, 20 ft hgt ±) is a clone growing on the west side of my residence at 405 Antioch Dr., Davis, California. On the most recent collection date—18 October 2008—the whole tree was ablaze with leaves that matched in fall coloration the above example.  My memory has faded about the fall coloration a year earlier (left leaf) but I believe it was less pronounced, that most of leaves were pale greenish yellow when they fell; far different from this year!  Two substantially larger trees (5” DBH, 60 ft hgt) of this same species just south of the subject tree have bland, yellowish fall coloration and totally brown foliage at the tops.  They were grown from seed collected from indigenous trees in west central Texas by the late ‘Doc’ Warnock, retired botany professor at Sol Ross University, Alpine, Texas.  


The scionwood for this particular canyon maple clone was collected from an indigenous tree located near the bottom of a prominent canyon near Price, Utah.  This indigenous tree had the most intense ruby red fall coloration of any maple that I saw in the several years I observed native stands of this species in northern and central Utah and southeastern Idaho. The rootstock is a seedling of the same species.  This clone’s spectacular fall coloration in 2008 validates its clonal name, Acer grandidentatum ‘Ruby Dome.’  


Acer grandidentatum in Utah, Idaho, and elsewhere in the Great Basin is a pygmy of Acer saccharum (sugar maple) in eastern North America.  Both species have similar flowers, fruit, and trunk bark.  Smaller leaves and generally smaller tree size of A. grandidentatum, apparently adaptive traits in arid environments, constitute the primary differences between the two species.

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