How To Gardening Plant Portraits Coral bark Japanese maple

Coral bark Japanese maple

By Nancy Norris | April 1, 2023

One of the most popular, semi-dwarf Japanese maples

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miniature tree with yellow leaves on garden railroad

Common name: Coral bark Japanese maple

Latin name: Acer palmatum ‘Sango kaku’ (syn. A.p. ‘Senkaki’)

Plant size: 15-20′ high by 15-20′ wide, unpruned

USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9

Plant type: shrubs and small trees

Cultural needs: Moist, well drained, neutral or slightly acidic soil; full sun to part shade

miniature tree with yellow leaves on garden railroad
This specimen is starting to show its fall yellow color. Nancy Norris photo

One of the most popular, semi-dwarf Japanese maples, called coral-bark maple, came from a seedling discovered in Australia. In the photo, the full-size specimen (center), wearing the start of its fall, yellow color, is planted just south of the central viewing area of this railway to provide a little shady respite. It was purchased a year earlier, with a strong trunk breaking into a natural parasol of cooling, arching branches about five feet from the ground. To its right, a smaller, coral-bark maple is a pruned version of the canopy tree. It provides shade for the 3″ figures in the town park. “Sango kaku” means red bark.

closeup of red tree bark
Note the red tree bark. Nancy Norris photo

If your tree’s bark doesn’t show a lot of red, wait until winter after deciduous leaves have fallen. If it gets enough sun, it will blaze into a showy mass of florescent, pinky-red twigs. Coral-stemmed dwarfs and semi-dwarfs include A.p. ‘Fjellheim’ (Zone 5-9, matures at 6-8′), A.p. ‘Winter Flame’ (Zone 5-8, matures at 6-10′), A.p. ‘Aka kawa hime’ (Zone 6-9, matures at 6-10′), and A.p. ‘Beni kawa’ (Zone 4-9, matures at 15-20′). As this tree grows in a wide range of Zones, buy one that has been growing near you.

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