Description & Overview

A Johnson’s Nursery origination; J.N. Plant Selections introduction, Firespire Musclewood is an upright form of Musclewood with outstanding orange-red fall color. It is quite similar in scale and form to Cornus mas ‘Golden Glory’. Firespire Musclewood is an excellent choice for a screening plant due to its slow growth rate, slender form, and adaptability to sun and shade.

Core Characteristics

Category: Tree

Wisconsin Native: Regional Ecotype Nativar

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 20 feet

Mature Spread: 8-10 feet

Growth Rate: Very Slow

Growth Form: Narrow, Upright, Oval

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

With its slow growth rate and dense canopy, Firespire Musclewood shines as a small-stature screening plant. It thrives in full sun to full shade and has a variety of landscape applications, from specimens to shrub borders. The upright habit is especially useful to frame a building or view.

Firespire® is well-suited for a variety of landscape settings due to its unique characteristics. It’s an excellent choice for screening purposes because of its slow growth rate and slender, upright form. It adapts well to both sunny and shaded environments, making it versatile for different planting locations. Its narrow, oval growth habit allows it to fit into tight spaces as a natural privacy barrier.

Additionally, its beautiful fall coloration and wildlife-friendly nature make it a valuable addition to native plant gardens, enhancing biodiversity. Firespire®’s low maintenance, including minimal pruning needs, further contribute to its suitability for a range of landscaping projects, from residential landscapes to public parks.

Download Firespire® Musclewood Plant Slick

A Johnson's Nursery origination; J.N. Plant Selections introduction, Firespire Musclewood is an upright form of Musclewood with outstanding orange-red…
A Johnson's Nursery origination; J.N. Plant Selections introduction, Firespire Musclewood is an upright form of Musclewood with outstanding orange-red…

Wildlife Value

The seeds and catkins of Firespire 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 Firespire 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, Firespire 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, Firespire Musclewood is an upright form of Musclewood with outstanding orange-red…
A Johnson's Nursery origination; J.N. Plant Selections introduction, Firespire Musclewood is an upright form of Musclewood with outstanding orange-red…

Pests/Problems

Firespire 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

Firespire Musclewood was selected in 1993 by Mike Yanny from production fields at Johnson’s Nursery, Inc. for its narrow, upright form. It is available in both single-stem and shrub-form trees. Shrub form Firespire Musclewood is an excellent choice for screening as its low, fine branching gives good cover.

This is an extremely slow growing tree and one should not expect it to exceed a height of 20 feet in 30 years. At 10 years old, our original twice-transplanted plant was around 7 feet tall by 3.5 feet wide.

Companion Plants

Firespire Musclewood can be paired with Golden Glory Dogwood to make a screen that holds year-round interest. On its own, one may use Overdam Feather Reed Grass to provide similar upright accents in the landscape.

A Johnson's Nursery origination; J.N. Plant Selections introduction, Firespire Musclewood is an upright form of Musclewood with outstanding orange-red…
JNI_Logo-ColorCMYK-hex badge-250px

Written by Johnson's Nursery