AskIFAS Powered by EDIS

Acer japonicum Fullmoon Maple1

Edward F. Gilman 2


Full-moon maple is a small, deciduous tree that reaches 10 to 15 feet in both height and width, creating a smooth, rounded canopy (Figure 1). It fits well into the oriental garden due to its exotic silhouette. The cultivar 'Acontifolium' is exceptionally cold hardy, having survived temperatures of 25°F below zero. The deeply divided, soft green leaves have 9 to 11 lobes and are delicately displayed on thin, drooping branches. The cultivar 'Vitifolium's' leaves are less divided, providing a coarse texture in the landscape. Leaves take on a beautiful yellow to red coloration in the fall before dropping, making this small, dense plant really stand out in the landscape. Fall color has been described as exceptional. The hanging clusters of showy, purple/red flowers appear in late spring and are followed by the production of winged seeds. The full-moon maple's flowers stand out among the maples.

General Information

Figure 1. Full-Moon Maple.
Figure 1.  Full-Moon Maple.
Scientific name: Acer japonicum
Pronunciation: AY-sir juh-PAW-nick-um
Common name(s): full-moon maple
Family: Aceraceae
Plant type: tree
USDA hardiness zones: 5 through 7 ( Figure 2)
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Uses: near a deck or patio; container or above-ground planter; trained as a standard; bonsai
Availability: grown in small quantities by a small number of nurseries


Height: 10 to 15 feet
Spread: 6 to 10 feet
Plant habit: round
Plant density: moderate
Growth rate: slow
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: lobed; parted
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: palmate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: orange
Fall characteristic: showy


Flower color: purple/red
Flower characteristic: showy


Fruit shape: oval
Fruit length: 0.5 to 1 inch
Fruit cover: dry or hard
Fruit color: green
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not particularly showy; no thorns
Current year stem/twig color: green
Current year stem/twig thickness: medium


Light requirement: plant grows in the shade
Soil tolerances: clay; acidic; well-drained; sand; loam
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerance: unknown
Plant spacing: not applicable


Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

This maple is well-suited for the residential landscape as well as the commercial setting. Planted near a patio or deck, it will generate many comments from friends and other visitors. It is probably best used as a specimen, planted to attract attention to an area. It should live for at least 20 years. Nice specimens can be viewed at arboreta, but few nurseries currently offer these cultivars for sale. This may change as nursery operators and homeowners discover the trees.

Full-moon maple can be grown in sun to almost full shade. Nice specimens can be seen growing in the filtered shade of tall, overstory trees, or where there is 2 to 6 hours of direct sun shining on the plant. Where the sunlight is intense, the tree will benefit from having its roots shaded or mulched to help keep the soil cool. A generous helping of mulch out to the edge of the canopy is beneficial.

Pests and Diseases

None of major concern except for verticillium wilt.


1. This document is FPS007, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #FPS007

Date: 4/29/2015

    Organism ID


    • Gail Hansen de Chapman