Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium'

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 4 Professionals
Common Name: full moon maple
Type: Tree
Family: Sapindaceae
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 8.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Purplish red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Good Fall


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers lightly dappled shade. Leaves may scorch in full sun in hot southern summers. Plants prefer cool summer conditions. Site in locations protected from strong winds. Stake young trees for more erect growth. Plants perform poorly south of USDA Zone 7.

Noteworthy Characteristics

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.

Genus name 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.

This cultivar was originally known as 'Maiku jaku', which means dancing peacock. The Western name of 'Aconitifolium' is so well known now that it is preferred.


No serious insect or disease problems. Foliage tends to leaf out early in spring and is subject to damage from late frosts. Susceptible to verticillium wilt, leaf spots, root rots, anthracnose, collar rot and stem canker. Potential insect pests include aphids, scale, borers and caterpillars. Mites may appear.

Garden Uses

Grown primarily as a specimen or in small groups around the home, patio or yard. Vigorous understory tree featuring attractive foliage and stunning fall color.