Interesting Plant: Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ (Coral Bark Japanese Maple)

I grew up in Ohio surrounded by maple trees of all sorts, from the large over-arching hard maples on the Main Streets to sugar maples dotted across the farms and in sugar bushes harvested for maple syrup. These maples don’t grow well here in sunny southern California, but I was equally charmed by the Japanese Maples that do grow here. There is so much beauty and variety among the Acer palmatum and something for nearly everyone to enjoy. This Coral Bark Maple is just one example of this wide-ranging species.

From Washington State University

“The Japanese maple cultivar ‘Sango Kaku’, often referred to as Coral bark maple, is generally one of the most prized of all of the upright palmate types for its winter interest. The bark on new twigs turns bright coral red (almost fluorescent) after the leaves fall. In areas west of the Cascade Mountains, this cultivar is one of the most widely grown of all of the upright, green-foliage Japanese maples. In Japan the name ‘Sango Kaku’ refers to “coral-painted”. “

Acer palmatum, called Japanese Maple or Smooth Japanese Maple (Japanese: irohamomijiイロハモミジ, or momiji紅葉) is a species of woody plant native to JapanNorth Korea,South KoreaChina, eastern Mongolia, and southeast Russia.[2] Many different cultivars of this maple have been selected and they are grown worldwide for their attractive leaf shapes and colours.

Acer palmatum is a deciduous shrub or small tree reaching heights of 6 to 10 m (20 to 33 ft), rarely 16 metres (52 ft), often growing as an understory plant in shady woodlands. It may have multiple trunks joining close to the ground. In habit, it is often shaped like a hemisphere (especially when younger) or takes on a dome-like form, especially when mature.[3] Theleaves are 4–12 cm long and wide, palmately lobed with five, seven, or nine acutely pointed lobes. The flowers are produced in small cymes, the individual flowers with five red or purple sepals and five whitish petals. The fruit is a pair of winged samaras, each samara 2–3 cm long with a 6–8 mm seed. The seeds of Japanese maple and similar species requirestratification in order to germinate.[3][4]” — 

More information on Stenocarpus sinuatus:

Plants and seeds from

Previously in the Interesting Plant series: 

Interesting Plant is a series from A Gardener’s Notebook blog and podcast that highlights the most interesting plants I find in my Internet and real-world travels — Douglas