Acer shirasawanum

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Acer shirasawanum
Acer schirasawanum 'Aureum' J1.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Sapindaceae
Genus: Acer
Binomial name
Acer shirasawanum
Koidz. 1911

Acer shirasawanum (Shirasawa's maple or fullmoon maple; Japanese: オオイタヤメイゲツ ooitayameigetsu) is a species of maple native to Japan, on central and southern Honshū (Fukushima Prefecture southwards), Shikoku, and Kyūshū.[3]

It is a deciduous large shrub or small tree growing to 8–15 m tall with a trunk up to 50 cm diameter. The bark is smooth on both young and old trees. The shoots are slender, and hairless. The leaves are rounded, 4.5–8 cm long and 6–12 cm broad, palmately veined and lobed, with 9–13 (rarely 7) serrate shallowly incised lobes; they are hairless, or thinly hairy at first with white hairs; the petiole is 3–7 cm long and hairless. In autumn, the leaves turn bright gold or orange to dark red. The flowers are 1 cm diameter, with five dark purplish-red sepals, five small whitish petals (soon lost), and red stamens; they are andromonoecious, with inflorescences containing flowers with either both sexes, or just male, and are produced 10–20 together in erect terminal corymbs in early spring soon after the leaves appear. The fruit is a paired samara with the nutlets 5–10 mm diameter with a 20–25 mm wing, erect above the leaves, bright red maturing brown.[3][4][5]

It can be distinguished from its close relatives Acer japonicum and Acer sieboldianum by its hairless shoots; from A. sieboldianum also by its red, not yellow, flowers.[6]

Some authorities, especially in horticulture, still use the older classification including the species in A. japonicum; many specimens in cultivation also remain mislabelled as A. japonicum.[7]

Two varieties are accepted:[7]

  • Acer shirasawanum subsp. shirasawanum
  • Acer shirasawanum subsp. tenuifolium

Cultivation and uses[edit]

It is grown as an ornamental tree in gardens for its foliage and autumn colour, but is seen far less commonly than Acer palmatum (Japanese maple). A number of cultivars have been selected; the lighter-coloured A. shirasawanum cultivar 'Aureum' is very widely grown, much more common in cultivation than the main species, and has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[8]

It is propagated by grafting onto more hardy and fast-growing Acer species, in particular A. palmatum and A. japonicum.[7]

Related links[edit]


  1. ^ The Plant List, Acer shirasawanum Koidz.
  2. ^ Delendick, T. J. (1984). Reconsideration of Two Infraspecific Taxa of the Fullmoon Maple, Acer japonicum (Aceraceae). Brittonia 36 (1): 49-58 doi=10.2307/2806291
  3. ^ a b Okayama science university: Acer shirasawanum (in Japanese; google translation)
  4. ^ Okayama science university: Acer shirasawanum flowers (in Japanese; google translation)
  5. ^ Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  6. ^ Kanagawa Prefecture trees and shrubs: Acer sieboldianum Archived 2009-10-24 at WebCite (in Japanese; google translation). Archived 2009-10-24.
  7. ^ a b c Maples for Gardens: A Color Encyclopedia by C.J. van Gelderen & D.M. van Gelderen, 1999
  8. ^ Royal Horticultural Society