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Acer palmatum is often confused with:
Hibiscus acetosella Hibiscus acetosella
Native alternative(s) for Acer palmatum:
Acer glabrum Acer glabrum var. diffusum
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Acer maximowiczianum Acer maximowiczianum habit
Acer rubrum Acer rubrum
Liquidambar styraciflua Liquidambar styraciflua

Acer palmatum

Previously known as:

  • Acer decompositum
  • Acer formosum
  • Acer ornatum
  • Acer pinnatifidum
Phonetic Spelling
AY-ser pahl-MAY-tum
Description

The Japanese Maple is a short tree in the Sapindaceae family native to southest Korea and central and south Japan, noted for having many aesthetically pleasing forms. Weeping, as well as upright varieties, exist and the species is well noted for its beautiful deep red and orange summer color that deepens into the fall. (for weeping varieties see Acer palmatum 'dissectum').

Leaves are 2 to 5 inches, opposite, and simple with 5 to 9 lobes.  Most are deeply lobed. Color varies from green during summer to yellow, bronze, purple, and red fall color (color varies with cultivar). This is a prized specimen tree is one of the more versatile maple species for landscape use. Young leaves of this species are sensitive to frost and are not drought tolerant. Most cultivars are grafted and can be grown as a single or multi-stemmed small tree. They may suffer leaf scorch with excess sun, wind, or drought.  This tree is mildly resistant to damage by deer.

Growth is slow to moderate and it assumes a layered look, with a low, dense, rounded top, and spreading branches.  The texture is medium to fine.  Plant in dappled shade and evenly moist, well-drained soil, protecting it from drying winds. 

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leaves 5-7 lobed, serrate
  • Leaves concolorous, green to red
  • Small deciduous tree to 25'. Twigs are slender, green to red, often glaucous bloom 
  • Buds are small, green, hidden by petiole base; terminal bud is often doubled. 

 

 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Flowers Galore Shade Garden Sitting Wall Bonsai Garden Patio Room Rock & Water Garden Water Feature Relaxed Foundation Planting Water Koi Pond Rock and Crevice Garden Water Koi Pond Woodland Backyard Garden Walk Water Garden Small shade garden Shaded Patio Garden Collector’s Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Ben Komachii', 'Bloodgood', 'Burgundy Lace' - grafted plant, 'Crimson Queen', Garnet, 'Gwens Rose Delight', 'Higasayama' - grafted plant (pink leaf margins), 'Kagiri Nishiki', 'Kiyohime', 'Koto no ito', 'Mikawa Yatsubusa', 'Mizuho Beni', 'Moonfire' - grafted plant, 'Novum' - grafted plant, 'Orange Dream', 'Orangeola', 'Osakazuki', 'Oto hime', 'Redleaf', 'Sango Kaku' - grafted plant (coral twigs), 'Seiryu', 'Shaiana', Sharp’s Pygmy, 'Trompenburg', 'Twombly Red Sentinel', 'Waterfall', 'Yuri Hime'
Tags:
#purple#red#deciduous#fall color#orange#shrub#wildlife plant#purple leaves#slow growing#moths#tree#maple#red leaves#bonsai#yellow leaves#tsc#understory tree#playground#dappled shade#cpp#samara#bronze leaves#deer resistant#nighttime garden#children's garden#larval host plant#bird friendly#tsc-t#pollinator garden#moth larva#imperial moth
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Ben Komachii', 'Bloodgood', 'Burgundy Lace' - grafted plant, 'Crimson Queen', Garnet, 'Gwens Rose Delight', 'Higasayama' - grafted plant (pink leaf margins), 'Kagiri Nishiki', 'Kiyohime', 'Koto no ito', 'Mikawa Yatsubusa', 'Mizuho Beni', 'Moonfire' - grafted plant, 'Novum' - grafted plant, 'Orange Dream', 'Orangeola', 'Osakazuki', 'Oto hime', 'Redleaf', 'Sango Kaku' - grafted plant (coral twigs), 'Seiryu', 'Shaiana', Sharp’s Pygmy, 'Trompenburg', 'Twombly Red Sentinel', 'Waterfall', 'Yuri Hime'
Tags:
#purple#red#deciduous#fall color#orange#shrub#wildlife plant#purple leaves#slow growing#moths#tree#maple#red leaves#bonsai#yellow leaves#tsc#understory tree#playground#dappled shade#cpp#samara#bronze leaves#deer resistant#nighttime garden#children's garden#larval host plant#bird friendly#tsc-t#pollinator garden#moth larva#imperial moth
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Acer
    Species:
    palmatum
    Family:
    Sapindaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Grafting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Asia: Japan, China, Korea, eastern Mongolia, southeastern Russia
    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. Small song birds are attracted to this plant.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Pieces Used in Games
    Sound
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wind Shimmer
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This tree is mildly resistant to damage by deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 15 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Broad
    Dense
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Samara
    Schizocarp
    Fruit Description:
    A schizocarp of two samaras, wings incurved forming an arch, becoming reddish.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are small and red to purple. They are attractive if viewed closely but insignificant from a distance.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are 2 to 5 in., opposite, and simple with 5 to 9 lobes. Most are deeply lobed. Their color varies from green during summer to yellow, bronze, purple to red fall color (however, color varies with cultivar).
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Green
    Light Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Young stems vary from green to polished reddish brown. Older branches assume a gray cast.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Glabrous, slender, usually green to red. Tremendous variation in stem color with green leaf trees green to reddish purple, red leaf trees often bright red to blood red to reddish purple. Exceptions arise. Frequently double terminal buds hidden by the base of the petiole.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Children's Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Specimen
    Understory Tree
    Attracts:
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought