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Publication #ENH-177

Acer japonicum 'Acontifolium': 'Acontifolium' Fullmoon Maple1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2


Full moon maple is a small, deciduous tree which reaches 10 to 15 feet in height and width, creating an irregular, rounded silhouette. It fits well into the oriental garden due to the exotic silhouette. This cultivar 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. 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 purple/red flowers appear in late spring and are followed by the production of winged seeds.

Figure 1. 

Young Acer japonicum 'Acontifolium': 'Acontifolium' Fullmoon Maple

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Acer japonicum
Pronunciation: AY-ser juh-PAWN-ih-kum
Common name(s): 'Acontifolium' Fullmoon maple, fernleaf maple
Family: Aceraceae
USDA hardiness zones: 5A through 7B (Fig. 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: specimen; deck or patio; container or planter; trained as a standard; Bonsai
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: 10 to 15 feet
Spread: 6 to 10 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: vase, round
Crown density: moderate
Growth rate: slow
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: parted, incised, lobed
Leaf shape: star-shaped
Leaf venation: palmate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: red
Fall characteristic: showy

Figure 3. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Flower color: red
Flower characteristics: showy


Fruit shape: elongated, oval
Fruit length: .5 to 1 inch
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: green
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically multi-trunked; thorns
Pruning requirement: little required
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: green
Current year twig thickness: thin, medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: partial sun or partial shade, shade tolerant
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; slightly alkaline; acidic; well-drained
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: none


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: susceptible
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

This maple would at home in the residential landscape as well as the commercial setting. Planted near the patio or deck, it would 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 this cultivar for sale. This may change as nursery operators and homeowners discover the tree.

Full moon maple should be grown in full sun or partial shade. Where the sunlight is intense, the tree will benefit from having its roots shaded to help keep the soil cool.


No pests are of major concern.


This maple is susceptible to verticillium wilt.



This document is ENH-177, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; and Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.