Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in part shade. Prefers lightly dappled shade. Leaves may scorch in full sun in hot southern summers. Plant in a location protected from strong winds. Stake trunk for more erect growth or leave alone for full cascading effect.
Acer japonicum, commonly called full moon maple, is a deciduous, spreading, small tree or large shrub that grows to 20-30’ tall. It often grows in a multi-trunked form. It is native to mountainous areas of Japan, Manchuria and Korea. It features rounded, palmate, almost fern-like, medium green leaves (to 3-6” across) which are deeply divided (approximately 1/3 of distance to the leaf base) into 7-11 acuminate, toothed and cut, ovate to lance-shaped lobes. Leaves turn yellow and red in fall. Each rounded leaf purportedly resembles a full moon, hence the common name. Small purplish-red flowers in pendulous corymbs appear in early spring (April) before the leaves. Flowers are followed by winged samaras (to 1” long) which ripen in late summer to early fall. Although somewhat similar in appearance to Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), full moon maple has larger leaves with more lobes per leaf and downy leaf stems.
Species plants are rarely offered in cultivation, but several popular cultivars are commonly sold, including ‘Aconitifolium’ and 'Vitifolium'.
Genus name of Acer is the Latin name for a maple tree.
Specific epithet indicates native to Japan.
'Aconitifolium' is a dwarf, mounded, deciduous multi-stemmed shrub or small tree which typically grows slowly to 8-10' tall. Features palmate, almost fern-like medium green leaves which are deeply divided into 9-11 toothed and cut lobes. Leaves turn crimson in fall. Small reddish flowers appear in spring before the leaves and give way to samaras which ripen in late summer to early fall. As with many maples, the flowers are rather attractive close up, but are not particularly showy from a distance. Cultivar name translates as "foliage of aconitum" in reference to the supposed resemblance of the divided leaves to those of monkshood. This cultivar is also sometimes called fernleaf fullmoon maple.
No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to stem canker. Foliage tends to leaf out early in spring and is subject to damage from late frosts.
Grown primarily for its attractive foliage, bushy shape and excellent fall color. Specimen/accent or group around the home or yard or periphery of the border or rock garden. Shrub form is effective in small groupings in shrub borders or as a screen.