Full Moon Maple (Acer Japonicum)

Plant: Table of Contents

Full Moon Maple (Acer japonicum): A Comprehensive Guide


In the world of ornamental horticulture, few plants rival the elegance and charm of the full moon maple, scientifically known as Acer japonicum. This exquisite tree is renowned for its striking foliage, compact size, and exceptional adaptability. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various aspects of caring for and appreciating this beautiful plant. From its cultural requirements to its uses in landscaping, we will explore every facet of the full moon maple.

What is the Full Moon Maple (Acer japonicum)?

Acer japonicum, commonly referred to as the full moon maple, is a species of deciduous tree belonging to the family Aceraceae. Native to Japan and Korea, this elegant tree is revered for its captivating foliage and graceful form. The distinct feature of the full moon maple is its wide, round leaves that can span up to 8 inches in diameter, resembling the shape of a full moon – hence the name.

The tree typically reaches a height of 15 to 20 feet with an equally wide spread, making it an ideal choice for smaller landscapes and gardens. The full moon maple is also highly valued for its remarkable fall color as the leaves turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow, creating a breathtaking display.

Key Takeaways – Full Moon Maple (Acer japonicum)

Before delving into the specifics of caring for the full moon maple, let’s overview some key takeaways related to this magnificent plant.


  • Origin: Japan and Korea
  • Tree Type: Deciduous
  • Foliage: Wide, round leaves resembling a full moon
  • Height: 15-20 feet
  • Spread: Equally wide
  • Fall Color: Vivid shades of red, orange, and yellow
  • Use: Ornamental tree for smaller landscapes and gardens


The full moon maple is primarily utilized for ornamental purposes, adding visual interest and seasonal charm to various landscape settings. Its compact size and striking foliage make it an excellent choice for:

  • Home Gardens
  • Parks
  • Japanese Gardens
  • Courtyards
  • Urban Landscapes
  • Public Spaces

Now that we have an overview of the full moon maple’s cultural background and uses, let’s delve into the essential care requirements for cultivating and maintaining this exquisite tree.


Proper watering is essential for the health and vitality of the full moon maple. While it is important to keep the soil consistently moist, it is equally crucial to ensure good drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other moisture-related issues.


The full moon maple thrives in partial shade to full sun conditions. When planted in a location with sufficient sunlight, the tree will exhibit its best growth and foliage coloration. In regions with intense summer heat, providing some afternoon shade can help protect the delicate leaves from scorching.


A balanced fertilizer applied in spring and early summer can provide the necessary nutrients for the full moon maple’s growth and development. Using a slow-release fertilizer specifically formulated for ornamental trees can help sustain healthy foliage and overall tree vigor.


The full moon maple prefers well-draining, slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. Amending the soil with organic matter such as compost or peat moss can enhance its texture and fertility, creating an ideal growing environment for the tree.


Pruning is an essential aspect of maintaining the full moon maple’s shape and size. Regular pruning can help remove dead or damaged branches, promote air circulation, and shape the tree for a balanced and appealing form.


The full moon maple can be propagated through both seed and softwood cuttings. While propagating from seed requires patience as the tree takes several years to reach maturity, softwood cuttings can yield quicker results.

Container Popularity

Due to its compact size and eye-catching foliage, the full moon maple is a popular choice for container gardening. It can be grown in large containers or planters, adding a touch of elegance to patios, verandas, and urban landscapes.

Common Diseases

While the full moon maple is relatively resistant to diseases, it is susceptible to certain issues such as leaf spot, powdery mildew, and verticillium wilt. Regular monitoring, proper cultural care, and timely treatment can help mitigate these potential concerns.

Disease Diagnosis

Diagnosing diseases in the full moon maple involves careful observation of the tree’s foliage, bark, and overall appearance. Identifying specific symptoms such as leaf discoloration, powdery deposits, or wilting can aid in determining the presence of disease and implementing appropriate management strategies.

Common Pests

The full moon maple may attract certain pests including aphids, scale insects, and leafhoppers. Regular inspection and proactive pest control measures can help prevent infestations and minimize potential damage to the tree.

Botanist’s Tips

  • Regularly monitor the soil moisture to ensure adequate hydration without waterlogging.
  • Provide occasional shading in regions with intense summer heat to protect the delicate leaves.
  • Incorporate organic matter into the soil to improve its texture and nutrient content.
  • Utilize slow-release fertilizers to sustain long-term tree health and vigor.
  • Implement timely pruning to maintain the tree’s shape and promote healthy growth.

Fun Facts

  • The full moon maple is a popular choice for Japanese gardens, complementing the serene and tranquil ambiance with its graceful presence.
  • Its wide, round leaves and vibrant fall color make it a standout feature in various landscape designs, adding visual interest and seasonal appeal.
  • The full moon maple exemplifies resilience and adaptability, thriving in diverse climatic conditions while captivating admirers with its ornamental attributes.

Now that we have navigated through the fundamental aspects of caring for the full moon maple, let’s explore some additional resources and further insights to deepen our understanding of this exceptional tree.

Links to External Resources

In conclusion, the full moon maple (Acer japonicum) stands as a testament to nature’s artistry, captivating enthusiasts and horticulturists with its distinct beauty and adaptability. Whether gracing a Japanese garden, adorning a urban landscape, or adding allure to a private garden, this remarkable tree continues to inspire and delight with its ornamental charm. Understanding its care requirements, uses, and cultural significance enables us to appreciate and cultivate the full moon maple to its fullest potential, fostering a deeper connection with nature’s botanical wonders.

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Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.