301 Vescovo Dr.

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

Described as a true aristocrat of the first order, Acer palmatum, commonly known as Japanese maple, is a deciduous small tree generally grown for its attractive foliage and shape and is very flexible in its landscape use. It typically grows to 10–25 feet and its spread is normally equal to or greater than its height. However, there is a great variation in this species because of the large number of cultivars. Its distinctive leaves have five to seven, and sometimes nine, deep lobes that are finely serrated (saw-toothed). The species name palmatum refers to the palmate nature of the leaves – each leaf lobe originates from one point looking like an open hand with outstretched fingers. While it does tolerate the tremendous heat of the South, it prefers afternoon shade in this part of the country.

The Japanese maple is native to Japan, Korea, China, eastern Mongolia and southeast Russia. The leaves are red or reddish-purple in spring and again in fall. In between, color varies from remaining red all summer to sometimes fading slightly with maturity or summer heat and even turning green. It yields red, winged seeds, called samara, joined in pairs. It works well as a specimen, accent, shrub border, grouping or bonsai. Squirrels and chipmunks are very fond of the maple seeds. The seeds, buds and flowers are also eaten by many birds.

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