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Acer japonicum is often confused with:
Acer shirasawanum Form
Acer sieboldianum Form
Native alternative(s) for Acer japonicum:
Acer glabrum Acer glabrum var. diffusum
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Acer rubrum Acer rubrum
Acer palmatum var. dissectum Acer palmatum var. dissectum
Acer ginnala Acer ginnala

Peacock maple Acer japonicum

Other Common Name(s):

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

Fullmoon maple is a slow growing deciduous tree in the Sapindaceae (soapberry) family native to mountainous areas of Japan, Manchuria, and Korea.  It has rounded leaves which look much like a full moon, hence the common name. This upright to spreading, small tree or large shrub has smooth, gray bark, often appearing in a multitrunked form and grows up to 15-30’ tall.

The 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 though they will tolerate full sun Moist well drained soil is preferred but it is adaptable to many soil types. 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. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Mountain Ridge Top Garden - North Lawn and Upper Drive Border Shaded Slope
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Aconitifolium', 'Green Cascade', 'Nicholsonii', 'Oregon Fern', 'Vitifolium'
Tags:
#purple#deciduous#small tree#full sun tolerant#specimen#shrub#wildlife plant#purple flowers#red flowers#moths#samaras#fall interest#large shrub#nighttime garden#spring interest#pollinator plant#Japanese garden#larval host plant#deciduous tree#moth larvae#partial shade tolerant#imperial moth#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Aconitifolium', 'Green Cascade', 'Nicholsonii', 'Oregon Fern', 'Vitifolium'
Tags:
#purple#deciduous#small tree#full sun tolerant#specimen#shrub#wildlife plant#purple flowers#red flowers#moths#samaras#fall interest#large shrub#nighttime garden#spring interest#pollinator plant#Japanese garden#larval host plant#deciduous tree#moth larvae#partial shade tolerant#imperial moth#landscape plant sleuths course
  • 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
    Wildlife Value:
    Members of the genus Acer support Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) larvae which have one brood per season and appear from April-October in the south. Adult Imperial Moths do not feed.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 15 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-trunked
    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
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    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:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Palmasect
    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
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Understory Tree
    Attracts:
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Problems:
    Invasive Species