Acer is Latin for “sharp” and may also be from the Celtic ac, which means “hard” in reference to the wood.
Fullmoon maple is the common names for Acer japonicum. The leaves are rounded with 7 to 11 toothed lobes and give the tree its common name. Another name is Japanese maple, which refers to the tree’s native habitat of Japan.
NATIVE RANGE AND HABITAT
Fullmoon maple is native to Japan.
Not native to Kentucky.
Growth Habit and Form
Full-moon maple is a small, deciduous tree that will grow 10 to 15 feet in height and width, creating a smooth, rounded canopy.
The deeply divided, soft green leaves have 7 to 11 lobes and are delicately displayed on thin, drooping branches. Fall color is exceptional. Leaves turn to glorious shades of yellow, orange and crimson in the fall before dropping, making this small, dense plant really stand out in the landscape. Fullmoon maple is often one of the earliest maples to color in fall.
The hanging clusters of showy, purple/red flowers appear in late spring and are followed by the production of winged seeds. The flowers stand out among the maples.
Fruit is a pair of winged seeds called samaras. Each samara is 1 inch long. The fruits ripen in the early fall.
The bark is brown and slightly fissured.
Wild and Cultivated Varieties
The cultivar ‘Acontifolium’ is exceptionally cold hardy, having survived temperatures of 25 degrees F below zero. The leaves are deeply cut down to the base into narrow, toothed lobes. Develops vibrant red fall color.
‘Aureum’ has golden yellow leaves. (Now A. shirasawanum ‘Aureum’)
The cultivar ‘Green Cascade’ is a weeping form with deeply cut lacy foliage and orange red fall color.
The cultivar ‘Vitifolium’ leaves are less divided, providing a coarse texture in the landscape. Leaves are large, up to 6 inches long and wide and of grape-like shape. Leaves develop rich purple, crimson, orange, and yellow fall color.
Fullmoon maple is best used as a specimen, planted to attract attention to an area.
Hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 7.
Cultivation and Propagation Information
Fullmoon is best grown in a sheltered position away from cold winds. Trees prefer a moist, well-drained soil and partial shade. Nice specimens can be seen growing in the filtered shade of tall, overstory trees, or with 2 to 6 hours of direct sun. Propagate by seed and by softwood cuttings collected in July.
Diseases and Insects
None of major concern except for verticillium wilt.
Maple trees provide homes, shelter and food for wildlife.
Fullmoon maple needs minimal maintenance.
TRADITIONAL AND MODERN USES
Fullmoon maple has been long cultivated by the Japanese.