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Acer japonicum

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
AY-ser juh-PON-ih-kum
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Acer japonicum, has rounded leaves which look much like a full moon, hence the common name. It is a deciduous, spreading, small tree or large shrub with smooth, gray bark that grows up to 20-30’ tall. It often grows in a multi-trunked form. It is native to mountainous areas of Japan, Manchuria, and Korea.  Leaves turn yellow and red in fall.  Small purplish-red flowers in pendulous corymbs appear in early spring (April) before the leaves.

Plants prefer cool summer conditions with lightly dappled shade. Site in locations protected from strong winds. Stake young trees for more erect growth. Plants perform poorly south of USDA Zone 7. Leaves may scorch in full sun in hot southern summers. 

Site: Sun to partial shade; prefers moist, well-drained soil but is adaptable

Texture: Medium to fine

Form: Upright; multi-branching; sturdy, stiff twigs; rounded top

Growth Rate: Slow to moderate

See this plant in the following landscape:
Shaded Slope
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Aconitifolium', 'Green Cascade', 'Nicholsonii', 'Vitifolium'
Tags:
#purple#red#sun#deciduous#fall color#small tree#full sun#partial shade#shrub#purple flowers#red flowers#tree#maple#japanese maple#samara#large shrub#spring interest
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Aconitifolium', 'Green Cascade', 'Nicholsonii', 'Vitifolium'
Tags:
#purple#red#sun#deciduous#fall color#small tree#full sun#partial shade#shrub#purple flowers#red flowers#tree#maple#japanese maple#samara#large shrub#spring interest
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Acer
    Species:
    japonicum
    Family:
    Sapindaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Mountainous areas of Japan, Manchuria, and Korea
    Dimensions:
    Height: 20 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 20 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Gray/Silver
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Samara
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Flowers are followed by winged 1" samaras which ripen in late summer to early fall.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Corymb
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    Small purplish-red flowers in pendulous corymbs appear in early spring (April) before the leaves. White and maroon flowers on long stalks in April; colors maroon red in fall.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Rounded, palmate (looks fern-line) opposite, 3-6" medium green leaves with 7 to 11 acuminate, toothed and cut, ovate to lance-shaped lobes.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark is smooth on young trees, becoming rough and scaly on older trees.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Buds:
    Hairy
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Multi-branching and stiff twigs. First year, slender, glabrous, reddish green. Second year, marked color change becoming brown with a sharp demarcation between current and last season's growth.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Patio
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Design Feature:
    Specimen
    Understory Tree
    Problems:
    Invasive Species