Description & Overview

A Johnson’s Nursery origination; J.N. Plant Selections introduction, Ball o’ Fire Musclewood is a compact, globe-formed tree with excellent orange-red fall color. The slow-growing rounded canopy stays full whether in sun or shade. As it is adaptable to many site and light conditions, Ball o’ Fire Musclewood is very useful as a specimen plant.

Core Characteristics

Category: Tree

Wisconsin Native: Regional Ecotype Nativar

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 15 feet

Mature Spread: 15 feet

Growth Rate: Very Slow

Growth Form: Compact, Globe-shaped

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Full Shade

Site Requirements: Adaptable to many soils, with best performance on rich wet-mesic sites. Tolerant of mildly alkaline soils.

Flower: Catkins, monoecious

Bloom Period: April-May

Foliage: Dark Green, Small Leaves

Fall Color: Orange to Red

Urban Approved: No

Fruit Notes: Nutlet, turning red-orange to brown at maturity. Heavy seed crops every 3-5 years.

Suggested Uses

Ball o’ Fire Musclewood excels as a small stature tree in a variety of sites. It is tolerant of many soils and can thrive in both full sun and full shade. Where space is restricted, or site conditions are difficult, use Ball o’ Fire Musclewood as a specimen, to create an allée, for screening, or as a street tree.

A Johnson's Nursery origination; J.N. Plant Selections introduction, Ball o' Fire Musclewood is a compact, globe-formed tree with excellent orange-red…

Wildlife Value

The seeds and catkins of Ball o’ Fire Musclewood provide food to many songbirds, grouse, and turkey. Its canopy and dense branching provide nesting habitat to many bird species. As a selection of Musclewood, this tree serves as a larval host to the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Striped Hairstreak, and White Admiral butterflies.

Maintenance Tips

As Ball o’ Fire Musclewood is a very slow-growing form of Musclewood, it does not require frequent or heavy pruning. Rubbing or crossing branches should be removed if noticed. In winter, monitor for rodent damage around the trunk. Use a spiral vinyl protector or repellent to avoid girdling damage.

Like its parent, Ball o’ Fire Musclewood has thin bark that is prone to mechanical damage. A mulch ring around the base will avoid mower damage, and be cautious when using garden tools around the trunk so as not to damage the thin bark.

A Johnson's Nursery origination; J.N. Plant Selections introduction, Ball o' Fire Musclewood is a compact, globe-formed tree with excellent orange-red…

Pests/Problems

Ball o’ Fire Musclewood has no major insect or disease problems. Stressed trees may be susceptible to Anthracnose, Botryosphaeria canker, and Nectria canker, but these diseases rarely rear their heads unless the tree is already stressed. The best prevention method is to ensure proper watering and nutrition with a healthy mulch ring.

Leaf Lore

The Ball o’ Fire Musclewood was selected by Mike Yanny from a crop of plants grown from seed collected in the wild in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. As a slow-growing deciduous tree, Ball o’ Fire Musclewood makes an excellent specimen in restricted spaces. Low maintenance requirements make this tree great for those wanting a low-maintenance tree with year-round interest.

Companion Plants

For planting beneath Ball o’ Fire Musclewood, consider using Pink-a-licious Fritsch Spirea, Marcus Salvia, or Prairie Dropseed.

A Johnson's Nursery origination; J.N. Plant Selections introduction, Ball o' Fire Musclewood is a compact, globe-formed tree with excellent orange-red…
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Written by Johnson's Nursery