Characteristics of Japanese Maple Tree (Acer palmatum) in the Wild

Japanese Maple Tree (Acer palmatum)
The Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) is a species of maple tree native to Japan and South Korea. Some sources claim that it is also native to China, but experts treat a similar Chinese maple as a separate species.

Like most maple trees, it is well adapted to almost any type of soil and tolerates shade. But it grows best in deep, well-drained soil and direct sunlight.

The Japanese maple grows to form large, shady shrubs and creates a dark area underneath, making it difficult for other plant species to breed under maple trees. Planting maple trees can be a nuisance, as they can be an invasive species in the forest.

There are about 1,000 cultivars with different characteristics, which can only be propagated by grafting. Four cultivars were selected based on phenotypic aspects such as leaf shape and size (soft to deeply lobed, some patterned), leaf color (very light to dark green or red to black-purple, or various patterns of white and pink), texture and bark color. and bearings.

Some cultivars of Japanese maple are bigger and stronger trees than the species themselves. Many grow in the form of shrubs or small trees 3-5 meters high. Some of the other cultivars are more stunted growing to less than 2 meters and becoming low dense shrubs like ground cover crops.

Several well-known and widely cultivated Japanese maple cultivars are for ornamental garden trees or bonsai specimens.

  • Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Butterfly’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Deshojo’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Filigree’
  • Acer Palmatum ‘Garnet’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Red Dragon’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’

 
Many of these are sold under the same name as the cultivar, or even propagated by grafting, making it difficult to distinguish between them. In particular, the red-black Japanese maple is sold under the name “Atropurpureum” or “Bloodgood”.

The term “Japanese maple” is also used to describe other species, usually those similar to Acer palmatum which are also native to Japan, Korea, and China, such as Acer japonicum, Acer pseudosieboldianum, Acer shirasawanum, and Acer sieboldianum. Because these maples are phenotypically variable within each species and can hybridize with others, differentiating them can be very difficult.

 

Characteristics of Japanese Maple Leaf

Acer palmatum Leaf
Source: inaturalist.org/richgrandzol

Japanese maple leaves are between 4-12 cm long and wide, palm-shaped with 5-7-9 pointed lobes, green in spring turning bright red or purplish in autumn, and they are very decorative.

 

Characteristics of Japanese Maple Flower

Acer palmatum Flower
Source: inaturalist.org/hannahbart

The flowers are small and reside in cymes, the flower is individual with 5 red or purple sepals and 5 whitish petals.

 

Characteristics of Japanese Maple Fruit

Acer palmatum Fruit
Source: inaturalist.org/hstewart531

Japanese maple fruit a pair of samaras, winged, 2-3 cm long each with seeds 6-8 mm. The seeds need stratification to germinate.

 

Characteristics of Japanese Maple Tree

Acer palmatum Tree
Source: winterhill.com.au

The Japanese maple tree grows as a shrub that can reach a height of 3-10 meters (rarely 15 meters) and often grows as a complementary tree in a shady forest. In their habitat, Japanese maple trees grow wide and low, sometimes until their leaves touch the ground.

The Japanese maple tree can grow in temperate regions around the world. It has been cultivated in Japan for centuries. There are many commercial cultivars cultivated in Europe and North America. Those with bright red leaves are the most popular, followed by green shrubs with clipped or split leaves.

 

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