Acer palmatum

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Authors: Karan Rawlins, Hillery Reeves and Kaylee Tillery at the Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health, University of Georgia


Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Sapindales
Family: Aceraceae
Genus: Acer
Species: A. palmatum
Scientific Name
Acer palmatum
Scientific Name Synonym
Acer palmatum var. dissectum
(Thunb.) Miq.
Common Names

Japanese maple


Acer palmatum can be grown as a multi-stemmed shrub or a single-stemmed small tree that can grows from 10-25 ft. (3-8 m) tall with a rounded to broadly rounded shape. The twigs have green and red, glabrous bark that is considered very showy. The bark on the trunk and main branches is gray.
Acer palmatum has a palmate leaf that is from 2-5 in. (5-13 cm) across with from 5 to 9 lobes. The foliage is usually green with fall colors ranging from yellow, bronze, purple, orange to red. The beautiful fall colors are some of the reasons this tree has been used in landscaping. The cultivars of Acer palmatum vary widely.
The small reddish purple flowers are carried in umbels. Acer palmatum blooms from April-June depending on the location. The flowers are beautiful close up, but are not usually very noticeable from a distance. Flowers are followed by winged fruit.
The fruits of Acer palmatum are samaras. The fruits are elongated and usually range from 0.5-0.75 in. (1.3-2 cm) long. The covering of the fruit is dry and hard. The color of the fruit ranges from green to reddish green. Fruits ripen from September-October.
Ecological Threat
Acer palmatum is native to Japan, China and Korea. It is often used as a landscape ornamental plant. Acer palmatum can be found in yards, along roadsides, and streams. It has escaped cultivation, naturalised and is considered a weed in New South Wales and other parts of Australia. Acer palmatum has escaped and naturalized in the eastern United States and Hawaii, Canada and New Zealand. Widespread use of this plant increases the probability that more will escape from cultivation.


Acer palmatum is able to reproduce by seed.


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