Downy Japanese Maple – Acer japonicum

Tree of the Week

26th September 2019 | Info

Common Name: Downy Japanese-Maple

Scientific name: Acer japonicum 

Introduction: Commonly known as the ‘Downy Japanese-Maple’, the ‘Amur Maple’, or the ‘Full Moon Maple’, Acer japonicum is a non-UK Native deciduous tree that is native to Japan and Southern Korea. 


Leaves: Palmate with 7-11 deep lobes. They are bright green in spring and turn to a scarlet red to purple tone in autumn.

Bark: Brown and smooth on young trees. As the tree matures, the bark develops small fissures and becomes rough and scaly.

Form: Downy Japanese Maple trees form a dense, rounded canopy and grow up to 4-8m tall.


Acer japonicum flowers form in corymbs in spring and are small and dark red. Between late summer to early autumn, these flowers turn into paired samaras and hang under the leaves of the tree. The samaras then drop in Autumn and are distributed by the wind.

Growth Habit:

Small-sized trees with a slow growth habit.

Interesting Facts:

Acer japonicum are typically grown as ornamental trees and are planted to draw attention to a specific area. ‘Acer’ is the Latin word for ‘sharp’ and is thought to refer to the tree’s hardwood.

Ecological Importance:

These trees provide valuable sources of shelter and food for surrounding wildlife.

Properties of Japanese Maple wood and its Uses:

Downy Japanese-Maple is a hard-wood has been used traditionally in Japan for hundreds of years.

Styling and Uses of the Tree:

These are typically grown as ornamental trees and regularly feature in domestic and city gardens.

Associated Pests and Diseases:

Leaf scorch when in windy to over-sunny positions, vine weevil larvae that eats tree roots alongside, Aphids, Horse Chestnut scale and both verticillium wilt and phytophthora root tot.


Pruning and Pruning Qualities: Typically requires little pruning besides removing winter dieback at the end of shoots. Pruning should be done when the tree is fully dormant which is typically between November and January. This is because maple trees tend to seep sap from their pruning cuts. 

Growth After Pruning: Tree should continue to grow at its normal, healthy growth rate.

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