Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku'

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 4 Professionals
Common Name: Japanese maple
Type: Tree
Family: Sapindaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 20.00 to 25.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Reddish purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Black Walnut

Culture

Easily grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Performs well in bright, sun-dappled, part shade locations. Pruning off some poorly colored mature branches may stimulate growth of new stems with much better pink coloration. Avoid hot and dry sites. Site in locations protected from strong winds.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Acer palmatum, commonly called Japanese maple, is a deciduous shrub or small tree that typically grows to 10-25' (infrequently to 40') tall. It is native to Japan, Korea and China. General plant form is rounded to broad-rounded, often with low branching. Each palmate green leaf (2-5" long) has 5 or 7 but less frequently 9 pointed toothed lobes. Small reddish-purple flowers in umbels bloom in mid spring (April). The flowers are rather attractive close up, but are not particularly showy from a distance. Flowers are followed by samaras (to 3/4" long) in pairs. Samaras ripen in September-October. Fall color includes shades of yellow, red-purple and bronze. Cultivars (often grafted) are quite variable.

‘Sango-kaku’ is an upright, slow-growing, vase-shaped form that typically grows over time to as much as 20-25’ tall. It is sometimes commonly called coral bark maple in reference to its distinctive and showy pink bark which provides excellent color and contrast to landscapes in winter. Pink coloration is less pronounced to almost absent in summer. Best pink coloration occurs on young twigs and branches. Palmate, 5- to 7-lobed, almost ferny leaves (to 2” long) with serrate margins emerge yellow-green with reddish margins in spring, mature to light green by summer and turn yellow-gold in fall. Small reddish-purple flowers in spring are somewhat attractive on close inspection, but are not showy from a distance. Flowers are followed by samaras that ripen in late summer to fall. Cultivar name means coral tower (sango meaning sea coral and kaku meaning tower/upward growing) as if to suggest this pink-barked cultivar resembles coral rising upward from a reef.

Synonymous with and formerly sold as ‘Senkaki’.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to stem canker and leaf spots. Verticillium wilt may also occur. Watch for borers, scale, mites and aphids. Good resistance to leaf scorch. Foliage tends to leaf out early in spring and is subject to damage from late spring frosts.

Garden Uses

Japanese maples are generally grown for their attractive foliage and shape. This cultivar also has excellent winter bark and should be sited in locations where the pink bark in winter can be easily appreciated. Specimen/accent or group around the home or yard or periphery of the border or rock garden. Multi-stemmed shrub forms are effective in small groupings in shrub borders.