This very striking variegated tree was a chance seedling discovered and named ‘Esk Flamingo’ by John Wills of Trelinnoe Park, Napier, New Zealand before 1995. It was introduced to the trade by Peter Cave Nursery in New Zealand, and from there was imported into The Netherlands by W J Hooftman of Boskoop about 2003 and distributed as ‘Red Flamingo’, under which name it is generally found in Europe. It is in circulation in Australasian nurseries as ‘Esk Flamingo’ (Ryan 2008). The widely reported story that it is a sport of ‘Silver Cardinal’ is erroneous; we are indebted to Chris Sanders for elucidating the correct origins of this tree. However, as with ‘Silver Cardinal’ its parentage is uncertain, but they probably both belong to Acer rubescens, or are hybrids of it, making an attribution to A. × conspicuum incorrect.
‘Esk Flamingo’ will form a small tree to 6 m in height, with trunks striated in greenish-white. The young shoots, however, are bright coral red and are especially prominent in winter. The foliage is heavily mottled with pink and white, making a striking confection. Chris Sanders considers that it is best grown on a stem and pruned hard back each spring, when it will form a small weeping tree, with particularly intensely coloured new growth. It is reportedly happy in full sun (Junker’s Nursery 2017).
RHS Hardiness Rating H5