Full Moon Maple (Acer Shirasawanum ‘Aureum’)

Plant: Table of Contents

Full Moon Maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’): Your Complete Guide

Acer shirasawanum, also known as the Full Moon Maple or Japanese Maple ‘Aureum’, is a beautiful deciduous tree that is highly prized for its stunning golden leaves and its graceful, spreading habit. This versatile and ornamental tree is a popular choice for gardens, landscapes, and even containers, adding a touch of elegance and color to any setting. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into all aspects of caring for the Full Moon Maple, from its cultural requirements to its common pests and diseases. Whether you are already a proud owner of this captivating tree or are considering adding it to your green space, this guide will provide you with all the essential information you need to ensure its health and vitality.

What is the Full Moon Maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’)?

The Full Moon Maple, scientifically known as Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’, is a species of maple tree native to Japan. It is part of the Aceraceae family and is widely celebrated for its distinctive palmate leaves that emerge in a vibrant golden-yellow hue, which later transitions to a lush green in the summer before transforming into breathtaking shades of yellow, orange, and red in the fall. This spectacular foliage, coupled with its elegant, layered branching structure, makes it a sought-after specimen for adding visual interest and a touch of drama to gardens and landscapes.

Key Takeaways – Full Moon Maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’)

Before diving into the detailed care and maintenance guidelines for the Full Moon Maple, let’s take a quick look at the key takeaways that will be covered in this guide:

  • Culture:

    • The ideal growing conditions and environmental requirements for the Full Moon Maple.
  • Uses:

    • The various landscaping and ornamental uses of the Full Moon Maple in different settings.
  • Water:

    • Guidelines for watering the Full Moon Maple and preventing water-related issues.
  • Sunlight:

    • Understanding the optimal sunlight exposure requirements for this ornamental tree.
  • Fertilizer:

    • Nutritional needs and best practices for fertilizing the Full Moon Maple.
  • Soil:

    • The preferred soil type, pH, and other soil considerations for promoting healthy growth.
  • Pruning:

    • Techniques for pruning and shaping the Full Moon Maple to maintain its aesthetic appeal.
  • Propagation:

    • Methods for propagating and expanding your collection of Full Moon Maples.
  • Container Popularity:

    • Insights into growing the Full Moon Maple in containers and its suitability for urban environments.
  • Common Diseases:

    • Identification and management of potential diseases that may affect the Full Moon Maple.
  • Common Pests:

    • Recognizing and controlling pests that can pose a threat to the health of this ornamental tree.
  • Botanist’s Tips:

    • Expert recommendations and insights for successfully cultivating and caring for the Full Moon Maple.
  • Fun Facts:

    • Interesting and lesser-known facts about the Full Moon Maple.

Now, let’s embark on an in-depth exploration of each of these aspects to equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to cultivate and nurture the beauty of Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’.

Culture of the Full Moon Maple

Understanding the cultural requirements of the Full Moon Maple is essential for creating a conducive environment that promotes its optimal growth, health, and ornamental appeal. From its water and sunlight needs to its soil preferences, here’s a comprehensive look at the cultural considerations for this captivating tree.


Proper watering is crucial for the health and vigor of the Full Moon Maple. While it is essential to ensure an adequate and consistent moisture supply, it is equally important to avoid waterlogged conditions that can lead to root rot and other moisture-related issues. Understanding the moisture needs and adopting appropriate watering practices are essential for the well-being of Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’.

  • Watering Guidelines:

    • The Full Moon Maple generally prefers well-drained soil and benefits from regular, moderate watering. However, it is important to adjust the frequency based on the weather conditions and the moisture retention capacity of the soil.

    • During the hot and dry summer months, it is crucial to monitor the soil moisture closely and provide supplemental watering when necessary, especially for newly planted or potted specimens.

    • To prevent water stress, it is advisable to water deeply, allowing the moisture to reach the deeper root zone. This encourages the development of a strong and expansive root system, enhancing the tree’s overall resilience.

  • Preventing Water-Related Issues:

    • Overwatering should be avoided, as it can lead to suffocating the roots and causing root rot. Signs of overwatering, such as wilting despite moist soil and the presence of mold or fungi at the base of the tree, should be promptly addressed by adjusting the watering frequency and volume.

    • Mulching the base of the Full Moon Maple with a layer of organic material can help regulate soil moisture, prevent rapid evaporation, and inhibit weed growth. This natural mulch layer also contributes to the enrichment of the soil as it decomposes.


The Full Moon Maple thrives in partial shade to full sun, although some protection from the intense afternoon sun is beneficial, especially in regions with hot and arid climates. Understanding the sunlight requirements and providing the appropriate exposure are vital for promoting lush foliage and vibrant fall colors.

  • Optimal Sunlight Exposure:

    • In cooler and more temperate regions, the Full Moon Maple can tolerate and benefit from a position that receives full sun for the majority of the day. In contrast, in warmer and sunnier climates, providing partial shade during the hottest part of the day can prevent leaf scorch and excessive transpiration.

    • When selecting the planting location, it is advisable to consider the changing patterns of sunlight throughout the day and the seasons, aiming to achieve a balanced exposure that promotes healthy growth and maintains the golden-yellow foliage’s brilliance.

  • Adapting to Sunlight Conditions:

    • The Full Moon Maple demonstrates adaptability to varying light conditions, and the intensity and duration of sunlight exposure can influence the hue and vibrancy of its leaves. By observing and adjusting to the specific lighting conditions in your garden or landscape, you can optimize the visual impact of this ornamental tree.

    • While the Full Moon Maple is relatively resilient, protecting it from prolonged exposure to harsh afternoon sun and strong winds can minimize stress and maintain its overall health and vigor.


Fertilizing the Full Moon Maple is essential for providing the necessary nutrients for robust growth, vibrant foliage, and a vigorous root system. Understanding the nutritional requirements and adopting appropriate fertilization practices are crucial for supporting the tree’s health and enhancing its ornamental value.

  • Nutritional Needs:

    • A balanced and slow-release fertilizer formulated specifically for trees and ornamental shrubs is well-suited for the Full Moon Maple. Look for a formulation with a higher nitrogen content to support the development of lush foliage and a strong framework.

    • When selecting a fertilizer, consider a product with micronutrients such as iron, manganese, and zinc, which are beneficial for the overall vitality and coloration of the leaves.

  • Fertilization Best Practices:

    • Apply the fertilizer in early spring before the new growth emerges, and then again in early summer to provide sustained nutrition throughout the growing season.

    • The application rate can vary based on the size and age of the tree. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the amount and frequency of fertilization to prevent over-fertilizing, which can lead to nutrient imbalances and potential damage to the roots.

    • To maximize the fertilizer’s effectiveness, ensure that the soil is adequately moist before application, as this facilitates nutrient uptake by the roots and minimizes the risk of fertilizer burn.


The soil plays a pivotal role in the health and growth of the Full Moon Maple, influencing factors such as moisture retention, nutrient availability, and root development. Understanding the preferred soil type, pH range, and other soil considerations is crucial for creating an optimal growing environment for Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’.

  • Preferred Soil Type:

    • A well-drained, loamy soil with a rich organic content is well-suited for the Full Moon Maple. This type of soil structure promotes healthy root development and offers adequate moisture retention without becoming waterlogged.
  • pH Requirements:

    • The ideal soil pH for the Full Moon Maple ranges from slightly acidic to neutral, typically falling within the range of 5.5 to 7.0. Monitoring and adjusting the soil pH can promote nutrient availability and foster favorable conditions for the tree’s growth and vitality.
  • Soil Considerations:

    • Incorporating organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted leaf mold, into the soil during planting or as a top dressing can enhance the soil structure, improve nutrient retention, and provide beneficial microorganisms that contribute to soil health.

    • Maintaining a layer of organic mulch around the base of the Full Moon Maple not only helps regulate soil moisture but also contributes to the gradual improvement of the soil as it decomposes, enriching its fertility over time.

Pruning the Full Moon Maple

Pruning is a valuable practice for maintaining the Full Moon Maple’s aesthetic appeal, managing its size and structure, and promoting overall health. By understanding the principles of pruning and adopting appropriate techniques, you can shape and enhance the tree’s natural beauty while ensuring its longevity and vitality.

  • Pruning Timing:

    • Pruning the Full Moon Maple is best performed during the late winter when the tree is dormant, allowing ample time for it to recover and initiate new growth in spring.

    • It is important to avoid extensive pruning during the peak of the growing season, as this can induce stress and compromise the tree’s energy reserves, potentially leading to reduced vigor and susceptibility to pests and diseases.

  • Pruning Techniques:

    • When pruning the Full Moon Maple, focus on removing dead, damaged, or diseased branches to maintain a clean and healthy framework.

    • Trim any crossing or overcrowded branches to promote air circulation and prevent potential rubbing and wounds that can serve as entry points for pathogens.

    • As the tree matures, selectively thinning out some interior branches can help improve light penetration and air movement, enhancing the overall health and appearance of the canopy.

  • Shaping and Training:

    • Shaping the Full Moon Maple to maintain its natural form and graceful appearance can be achieved by gently guiding the growth through selective pruning and careful consideration of the tree’s natural branching pattern.

    • Avoid drastic or severe pruning that can lead to an unbalanced and unsightly silhouette, aiming for gradual and minimal adjustments that preserve the tree’s inherent elegance and charm.

Propagation of the Full Moon Maple

Expanding your collection of Full Moon Maples or sharing the beauty of this ornamental tree with others can be achieved through various propagation methods. From seed propagation to softwood cuttings, here’s a look at the techniques for propagating Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’.

  • Seed Propagation:

    • Propagating the Full Moon Maple from seeds requires patience and is best suited for enthusiasts interested in observing and influencing the tree’s genetic diversity and growth characteristics.

    • Collect mature seeds from the tree in the fall and sow them in a well-draining propagation medium. Stratifying the seeds by subjecting them to a period of cold, moist conditions can help improve germination rates.

    • While seed propagation offers the potential for variation and genetic diversity, it typically results in a longer timeline for the tree to reach maturity and display its full ornamental potential.

  • Softwood Cuttings:

    • Propagating the Full Moon Maple from softwood cuttings extracted during the active growth phase can yield genetically identical clones of the parent tree and speed up the process of establishing new plants.

    • Select healthy and non-flowering shoots for propagation, ensuring that they are free from diseases, pests, and physical damage. Dip the cut ends in a rooting hormone to encourage the development of roots.

    • Provide the cuttings with the appropriate moisture and humidity levels to support root initiation, and once established, transplant them into individual containers or prepared beds for further growth.

Growing Full Moon Maple in Containers

The Full Moon Maple is well-suited for container cultivation, making it a versatile and space-efficient option for urban gardens, patios, and balconies. By understanding the specific requirements and considerations for growing this ornamental tree in containers, you can enjoy its captivating beauty in a variety of settings.

  • Container Selection:

    • Choose a spacious and sturdy container that provides ample room for the Full Moon Maple’s root system to develop and offers good drainage to prevent waterlogging.

    • Consider a container with insulating properties to mitigate temperature fluctuations, especially in regions with colder winters.

  • Potting Mix and Drainage:

    • Select a high-quality, well-draining potting mix that is enriched with organic matter and offers good aeration for the roots.

    • Ensure that the container has multiple drainage holes to facilitate the removal of excess water and prevent the accumulation of moisture at the root zone.

  • Watering and Nutrition:

    • Container-grown Full Moon Maple trees may require more frequent watering, especially during warm and dry periods, to maintain adequate moisture levels in the root ball.

    • Fertilize the tree with a balanced and slow-release fertilizer formulated for container plants to provide essential nutrients for sustained growth and vibrant foliage.

  • Protection and Microclimate:

    • Position the container in a sheltered location that offers partial shade and protection from strong winds, especially during the peak of summer and the onset of winter.

    • In colder climates, consider insulating the container or relocating it to a protected area to shield the tree from extreme temperatures and frost damage.

Popularity of the Full Moon Maple in Containers

The Full Moon Maple’s adaptability to container cultivation has contributed to its increasing popularity in urban and confined spaces. Its compact size, stunning foliage, and graceful form make it an attractive choice for incorporating ornamental value and visual interest in container gardens and landscapes.

  • Urban Landscapes:

    • The Full Moon Maple’s suitability for container cultivation has made it a favored option for urban gardens, rooftop terraces, and compact outdoor spaces, offering an elegant and sophisticated touch without the requirement of a large planting area.

    • Its versatility and ability to thrive in confined quarters make it an ideal choice for adding aesthetic appeal and a touch of nature to urban environments.

  • Decorative Features:

    • When grown in containers, the Full Moon Maple can serve as a focal point, a centerpiece for seasonal displays, or an ornamental accent that adds color and texture to patios, courtyards, and entryways.

    • Its adaptability to pruning and shaping makes it well-suited for various container designs, such as topiaries or cascading arrangements, further enhancing its decorative potential.

  • Seasonal Displays:

    • The Full Moon Maple’s vibrant and ever-changing foliage adds a dynamic element to seasonal displays, transitioning from the striking golden-yellow hues of spring to the rich greens of summer and the breathtaking spectrum of fall colors.

    • Pairing the Full Moon Maple with complementary seasonal flowers, ornamental grasses, and foliage plants can create captivating and harmonious container compositions that evolve throughout the year.

Common Diseases of the Full Moon Maple

While the Full Moon Maple is relatively resilient, it can be susceptible to certain diseases that can impact its health and appearance. Recognizing the symptoms and implementing appropriate measures for disease management are essential for safeguarding the well-being of Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’.

  • Common Diseases:

    • Tar Spot (Rhytisma spp.):

      • Tar spot appears as raised, black, tar-like lesions on the leaves, usually in late summer and early fall. While it does not usually cause significant harm to the tree’s health, severe infections can lead to premature leaf drop.
    • Anthracnose (Gloeosporium spp.):

      • Anthracnose can manifest as irregular brown spots on the leaves, often accompanied by wilting and premature defoliation. It is more prevalent in periods of high humidity and can affect the tree’s overall vigor.
  • Disease Management:

    • Cultural Practices:

      • Promote good air circulation and avoid overcrowding by selectively pruning and thinning out branches to minimize favorable conditions for fungal diseases.

      • Clean up and remove fallen leaves, particularly those affected by tar spot or anthracnose, to reduce the presence of disease-causing spores around the tree.

    • Fungicidal Treatments:

      • In cases of recurring or severe infections, applying a targeted fungicidal spray during the appropriate period can help mitigate the spread and impact of fungal diseases, particularly during the tree’s active growth phase.
    • Preventive Measures:

      • Ensuring the Full Moon Maple’s overall health through proper cultural practices, including watering, fertilization, and soil management, can enhance its natural resistance to diseases and resilience to environmental stressors.

Common Pests Affecting the Full Moon Maple

Various pests can pose a threat to the health and appearance of the Full Moon Maple, potentially causing damage to the foliage, stems, or roots. Recognizing the signs of pest infestations and implementing suitable control measures are essential for protecting and preserving the ornamental value of Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’.

  • Common Pests:

    • Aphids (Aphidoidea):

      • These small, sap-sucking insects can cluster on the undersides of leaves and new growth, causing distortion and yellowing of the affected foliage. Severe infestations can lead to stunted growth and a decline in overall vigor.
    • Scale Insects (Coccidae):

      • Scale insects often appear as small, waxy, or shell-like protrusions on the bark or foliage, where they can feed on the tree’s sap and weaken its vitality. Heavy infestations can lead to yellowing, wilting, and premature leaf drop.
  • Pest Management:

    • Horticultural Oils:

      • Applying horticultural oil during the dormant season can help smother overwintering pests and their eggs, reducing the population and preventing early-season infestations.

      • Ensure thorough coverage of the tree, particularly targeting the underside of the leaves and the crevices on the bark where pests may shelter.

    • Natural Predators:

      • Encourage the presence of beneficial predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps, which can help keep pest populations in check through natural predation.

      • Avoid the overuse of broad-spectrum insecticides that can negatively impact beneficial insects and disrupt the natural pest control balance.

    • Monitoring and Early Intervention:

      • Regularly inspect the Full Moon Maple for signs of pest activity, such as honeydew, sticky residues, or stippling on the leaves, enabling prompt intervention and control measures before infestations escalate.

Botanist’s Tips for Full Moon Maple Care

Cultivating the Full Moon Maple successfully involves a combination of sound knowledge, attentive care, and a deep appreciation for its unique characteristics and requirements. Here are some insightful tips and recommendations from botanists and horticultural experts to help you nurture and enjoy the beauty of Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’.

  • Selecting the Planting Site:
    • When choosing the ideal location for your Full Moon Maple, consider factors such as soil drainage, air circulation, and sunlight
Picture of Peter Taylors

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.