Trees for Parks: Fall Fiesta Sugar Maple

Fall Fiesta sugar maple at Bold Spring Nursery in Georgia. Fall Fiesta is available in New York nurseries as well. Photo Courtesy Bold Spring Nursery

The Fall Fiesta sugar maple (Acer saccharum ‘Bailsta’) is a patented cultivar selected in 1987 from a group of seedlings at Bailey Nurseries in Yamhill, Oregon. It was chosen because of its vigorous growth rate; upright, symmetrical form; and leathery leaves that are resistant to scorch and tatter caused by droughty or windy conditions, respectively.

Fall Fiesta is an excellent shade tree with a dense, rounded crown; it maintains its shape and requires little pruning. Its fall color may consist of more oranges and reds than other sugar maple varieties, and it exhibits excellent winter hardiness, from USDA Zones 3 to 8. Healthy trees don’t have significant pest or disease problems. 

Fall Fiesta fall color. Photo Courtesy MOBOT Plant Finder

Although it prefers a slightly acidic soil, Fall Fiesta adapts well to differences in soil pH. It doesn’t, however, tolerate compacted soils or salt, and if planted in high pH soils may become deficient in manganese. It is somewhat sensitive to air pollutants. Like most trees, it grows best in moist, well-drained soils, with adequate irrigation where necessary. It prefers full sun exposure but can tolerate some shade.

Fall Fiesta has a deep, wide-spreading root system and performs best in larger planting spaces.  Sugar maple is prone to root girdling, so precautions should be taken during planting to inspect stock and eliminate any circling or girdling roots.

The upright, symmetrical form of Fall Fiesta. Photo Courtesy Bold Spring Nursery

In favorable conditions, this tree will reach a height of 60 to 70 feet (18 to 21 m) with an expected lifespan of 100 years or more. Fall Fiesta is a reliable, low-maintenance shade tree that will brighten the landscape each fall with its celebration of color. —Jennifer Jolliff, ISA Certified Arborist, Municipal Specialist, City of Bozeman, Montana Forestry Division

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