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Japanese Maple

  • Scientific Name: Acer palmatum
  • Garden: Dog Friendly Garden
  • Plant Type: Tree
  • Evergreen/Deciduous: Deciduous
  • Sun/Shade Exposure: Full Sun
  • Moisture Requirements: Moist, well-drained

Plant Information

Native to Japan, China and Korea, but long cultivated in Japan. This is a huge group of maples. Leaves can be green, red, purple, white, pink and gold and that’s just during summer. Leaf-shape varies greatly as well, between big leaves with fat lobes to delicate lace-leaf forms and linear leaves that look like needles.

Many sizes and shapes exist. Upright growing varieties can grow as tall as 25’ with dwarf varieties maturing around 2’ tall and many cultivars between. Weeping types are common sites around Portland, dotting front yards with a splash of red. Allowed to grow for years, weeping maples can achieve formidable size; 12’ x 12’ in 40-50 years. Their relatively slow growth makes them easy to keep smaller with minimal pruning.

Leaves burn in hot summer sun, so they are best in morning sun and afternoon shade, hardy z5
Fall colors of red, orange and yellow.

Size: Varies per species and variety so check individual plants closely. Most plant labels will give a 10-15 year size estimate based on the tree’s growth rate.

If growing conditions are good, the plant may grow faster and larger and if you have 50 years to wait, the tree will definitely grow larger than the label suggests.

Culture: Light requirements vary per variety. Generally large-growing maples like full sun and smaller-growing species prefer some shade because they are second-story trees in their native forests.

Moist, well-drained soil is ideal for all maples but some species adapt to varying pH levels, compacted soil and crowding better than others.

Diseases: Generally maples do well in the northwest, but insects and diseases can have problems; aphids, borers, canker, anthracnose, mildew, spider mites and verticillium wilt to name a few.

Data Source

Photo Credit

ACPA Full, ACPA Leaf (©2022 Cheri Moland)