What Is The Japanese Maple Plant? - May 2023

What is the Japanese maple plant?

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By Samuel Ansah

Last Updated April 23, 2023

Japanese maple is the common name for Acer palmatum. This is a commonly grown plant in Japan, China, and Korea.

Acer palmatum is a deciduous shrub or small tree that grows to mature widths of 4.5 to 10 m (15 to 33 ft), heights of 6 to 10 m (20 to 33 ft), and rarely 16 m (52 ft). It frequently grows as an understory plant in shady woodlands.

japanese maple

Cultivation and uses

Japanese maple grows well in temperate regions and is mostly cultivated in the springs because Acer palmatum is known to do well in the springs than in summer. Japanese horticulturists have developed maple cultivars over the years.

Some of Acer palmatum can be seen in most ancient drawings as art subjects. Branches and leaves from Japanese maple are also used in making traditional medicines in China.

Growing conditions

Japanese maple is a water-loving plant that will dry and die in droughts. They love shades, and in hot places, you see them survive; they mostly grow under rocks or heavy shades. The best time to grow new Japanese maple cuttings is in the spring, and you do not need a lot of fertilizer to grow new cuttings.


Cultivating a Japanese maple does not need timely pruning. They drop off old leaves for new ones to sprout. It is very common to see a lot of dead leaves under a maple plant. Dead leaves from the plants help in mulching, which helps the plant retain moisture to survive.


Horticulturists in Japan spent a lot of years developing cultivars. There are over 1000 cultivars of Japanese maple. Below are the popular ones you can find around.

Popular cultivars

Japanese maple cultivarCultivar description
Aka shigitatsu sawapinkish-white leaves with green veins
Ao ba jodwarf with bronze-green summer foliage
Atropurpureumwine-red, including new branches
ButterflySmall upright tree form for shade, slow growing, small palmate leaves variegated with white borders and a bluish-green tint, pink hues show up during spring and fall.
Golden Pondgreenish-yellow summer foliage
Higasa yamacrinkled leaves variegated with yellow
Hogyukorich green leaves, turning orange in autumn
Hupp’s Dwarfa small, dense shrub with miniature leaves
Koto no itolight green, thread-like leaves
OrangeolaAn excellent cultivar of the weeping shrub form, prized for its dynamic color, which changes constantly throughout the season
Tsuma gakiyellow leaves with reddish-purple borders

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Source: PoultryABC.com
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