Tree of the Week: Korean Maple

Published on

  Ever since Kenny Cochran of Secrest Arboretum introduced me to Korean or purple-bloom maple, Acer pseudosieboldianum, and I planted one in my backyard, I have been in wonder of its features. Fall foliage color, of course (more on that later), but years ago after the first years in our laissez-faire landscape, and with it almost making it look like I knew what I was doing, with its elegant form and overarching branches, I brought this up to horticulturist extraordinaire Ethan Johnson of Holden Arboretum. 

  Ethan agreed on the fall color, but noted that in his experience Acer pseudosieboldianum (Ethan, ever the botanist, would use the Latin binomial), it sort of became gangly, unruly, and not quite so elegant with age. Fine by me; I represent that description. Well, of course he was right and it is less elegant, perhaps, though still pleasing, but from early bloom and foliage and through the season it is a good to great Japanese-style maple in the landscape.


Korean maple soft emerging foliage


Flowers of Korean maple


  It is a native of China and Korea and is a specialty small maple (15-25) with both delicate and spectacular features. In the spring, the new foliage is soft and covered with downy hairs. Flowers are hanging in clusters and give a delicate appearance, paired with the new foliage. Leaves have about 10 lobes and are 4 or 5 inches across.  Plant in sun-dappled partial shade or in full sun if protected from hot, dry sites. Excellent hardiness.         

  But here is where it is most spectacular. In Autumn – all my life I had never imagined leaves such as these. Not only the range of different colors on the tree overall: purples and yellows, oranges and greens, reds and… well you get the picture. But something I notice and appreciate more and more regarding fall foliage, the different pigment profile on individual leaves at a given point in time. Korean maple is my entry for the most spectacular in this regard, though sweetgum gives it a run for the money.

  Picture this.  


Korean maple fall foliage 2Korean maple fall foliage 3Korean maple fall foliage 4Korean maple multicolored fall foliage