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Cutleaf Japanese Maple

January 8, 2018

Tree of the Month

Acer palmatum dissectum

A beautiful slow to medium growing plant that will eventually reach 8 to 14 feet in height and almost twice as wide.  Native to Japan, China and Korea, they are commonly planted in North America in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8.  Used for centuries in Japanese gardens and for bonsai, they also hold their own in larger gardens and arboretums. The trees take on a magnificent twisted and contorted branch pattern with old age that is unrivaled in nature.  Bark is a gray-brown and smooth.  Japanese Maples require very little pruning of deadwood only, unless being used for bonsai. Winged samaras, commonly called helicopters, are the fruits of maples.  The samaras on Japanese Maples emerge right after the leaves and can be red or green, just like the leaves.  Leaves are 2 to 4 inches across and have 5 to 9 lobes and can be quite deeply cut.  Foliage can emerge red and turn green or varieties like “Atropurpureum” remain a crimson color all summer.  Fall color, depending on the variety, will be yellow, crimson or a dazzling burnt orange. Japanese Maples prefer a rich moist soil with near neutral or slightly acid pH.  Young growth is sensitive to cold temperatures and in summer, the leaves will curl and burn on dry windy sites.  Partial shade and protection from drying winds, combined with watering, will cut down on damage to tender new growth.

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