|Section:||Acer sect. Parviflora|
|Series:||Acer ser. Parviflora|
Description and range
A. nipponicum is a medium sized deciduous tree, growing to between 15–20 metres (49–66 ft) and averaging 18 metres (59 ft) tall. The branches and trunk have a smooth grey bark, while young twigs are a smooth, slightly lustrous dark green. The flowers of A. nipponicum are generally andromonoecious, but some trees in groves occasionally are androecious, having only male flowers. Wild specimens flower from about Late June and continue through late July depending on elevation, with trees growing at lower elevation starting to bloom in mid June, and some trees flowering through to early August. The species is found in mountainous regions on the islands of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu in Japan at elevations ranging from 500 to 2,000 metres (1,600 to 6,600 ft). The northernmost groves are near Mount Hachimantai and Mount Iwate in Iwate Prefecture on Honshu. The southernmost groves are in the southeast corner of Kumamoto Prefecture on Kyushu.
A ribosomal DNA study of Acer species in 2006 placed A. nipponicum along with the related A.caudatum near the base of the phylogenetic trees recovered. A. nipponicum is suggested to be closely related to two of the extinct species of Acer placed in the section Parviflora by paleobotanists Jack Wolfe and Toshimasa Tanai. The species A. browni and A. smileyi were both described by Wolfe and Tanai in 1987 from groups of fossils found in western North America. The slightly older species A. smileyi is suggested by Wolfe and Tanai to have been closer in relation to A. nipponicum than A. browni based on the leaf morphology.
The species was first described by Adrien René Franchet and Paul Amedée Ludovic Savatier as Acer parviflorum in 1877. This name was already taken, having been used in the earlier description of Acer parviflorum by Jakob Friedrich Ehrhart, which in turn is a synonym of Acer spicatum. Noting this situation, in 1938 Hermann Albrecht Hesse renamed the species to Acer brevilobum, but because this renaming was published thirteen days after Hiroshi Hara published his renaming of the species to Acer nipponicum, the A. nipponicum name has priority.
- Oregon State University Department of Horticulture accessed 12 December 2011
- Ogata, K. (1965). "A dendrological study of the Japanese Aceraceae, with special reference to the geographical distribution". Bulletin of the Tokyo University Forests 60: 30–31, 87.
- Grimm, G.W.; Renner, S.S.; Stamatakis, A.; Hemleben, V. (2006). "A Nuclear Ribosomal DNA Phylogeny of Acer Inferred with Maximum Likelihood, Splits Graphs, and Motif Analysis of 606 Sequences". Evolutionary Bioinformatics 2: 7–22. PMC 2674679. PMID 19455198.
- Wolfe, J.A.; Tanai, T. (1987). "Systematics, Phylogeny, and Distribution of Acer (maples) in the Cenozoic of Western North America". Journal of the Faculty of Science, Hokkaido University. Series 4, Geology and mineralogy 22 (1): 23, 74, 75, 240, & plate 4.