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Shantung Maple Is a Handsome Small Tree for Gardens

Virtues: An adaptable garden tree with fabulous fall foliage, Shantung maple grows just 20 to 25 feet tall, making it suitable for small spaces, street-side planting and the front yard. This Asian maple’s foliage emerges with a reddish cast before shifting to deep green for summer and fiery shades in autumn. 


In 2021 this tree was honored with a Theodore Klein Plant Award. Each year a panel of professionals from Louisville’s Yew Dell Botanical Gardens, the Kentucky Nursery and Landscape Association, the University of Kentucky and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture adds a handful of exceptional trees, shrubs and perennials to their list of excellent garden plants for the local climate. The award is named for the exceptional nurseryman whose property is now home to Yew Dell.

Common name: Shantung maple, purpleblow maple

Botanical name: Acer truncatum

Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Flowers: The flowers are not ornamentally significant. Greenish in color and small, they appear in mid-spring.

Foliage: The leaves have the typical lobed maple shape. They grow to about five inches across. When they begin growth in spring, the leaves are a red-purple color. Dark green through summer, they then turn bright yellow, orange and red in the fall.

Habit: Shantung maple grows just 20 to 25 feet tall, with a rounded crown spreading 15 to 20 feet wide.

Origin: Acer truncatum is a species native to northern China and Korea.

How to grow it: Site Shantung maple in average soil that drains freely. Provide full sun or part shade. Once established, it tolerates heat and drought. USDA Zones 4–8a.

Image credit: Photo (c)2006 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man) - Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 2.5