Although Acer palmatum seems to be the maple carried by the big nurseries, there are other species that are equally impressive and Fullmoon maple, or Acer shirasawanum, is one of them. This special tree is named after the Japanese nurseryman Homi Shirasawa, and is also known sometimes as Shirasawa's maple.
It is a small to medium sized tree growing 25 to 40 feet tall with a spread as wide as 25 feet. It is usually multi-stemmed with a smooth bark that is lightly striped in grey-green, and is very handsome.
The leaves are rounded with nine to eleven toothed lobes born by chartreuse stems. And, like most Japanese maples, it is the leaves that are the most striking feature. Fullmoon maple leaves emerge chartreuse to lemon-yellow in spring, becoming a dark green by summer. They are quite thin and held on a horizontal plane. With the approach of cool weather, a crimson creeps into the stems and begins inching across the dark green. The red becomes streaked with pink and yellow until, finally, the whole leaf is emblazoned with autumn colors. The combination of colors appearing simultaneously is quite unique and striking.
The small flowers are rather pretty too with white petals and red sepals. The inch wide seeds, or samaras, are held upright, red wings above a round green seed. They are also pretty. The tree’s habit is like many Japanese maples, elegant, vase-shaped and with a softly rounded top.
Fullmoon maple is deserving of a specimen site where its many attributes can be best appreciated. It should be grown in some shade since the very thin leaves may burn in intense summer sun. It will do best in acidic woodland soils, moist, but with good drainage. It grows across the UK and the upper US, particularly the Pacific Northwest and  Canada's British Columbia. It also does well in New Zealand. If you live in the right climate, the next hurdle would be finding it since your discount nurseries don't carry it. But the specialty plant nurseries do carry this rare and beautiful maple.


Fullmoon maple

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