The “Other” Japanese Maple

The full moon maple’s Latin name, Acer japonicum, actually seems more Japanese than the Japanese maple, Acer palmatum. It’s native to Japan, of course.

To confuse things even more, there’s Acer shirasawanum, also called full moon maple, sometimes considered a subspecies of A. japonicum. The ‘Aureum’ variety is an incredibly beautiful tree that’s incredibly difficult to grow in our area (we lost two and gave up).

Our current tree is A. japonicum ‘O-Isame’, and has tolerated life in our garden for years as a shaded understory tree, although it would probably be happier someplace cooler, like Arcata.