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TREES & plants

Nikko maple

Unlike other maples, the Nikko maple does not have the traditional "maple" leaf. Each leaf is divided into three leaflets. The leaves turn to shades of red and orange in autumn, giving this medium-sized tree some late-season interest.

Botanical name: 
Acer nikoense
All Common Names: 
Nikko maple
Family (English): 
Soapberry (formerly Maple)
Family (Botanic): 
Sapindaceae (formerly Aceraceae)
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks
Landscape Uses: 
  • Shade tree, 
  • Specimen
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet), 
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet)
Mature Height: 
30-45 feet
Mature Width: 
30-45 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Intolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Intolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Fall color
Season of Interest: 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Oval
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
Wildlife: 
  • Insect pollinators
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

Avoid pruning maples in spring as they are 'bleeders' and will lose large amounts of sap.

Disease, pests, and problems

Verticillium wilt (fungus) is a potential problem for maples.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Japan and China.

Bark color and texture 

The gray bark is smooth.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

The leaves consist of three leaflets on a short, hairy stalk. The leaves are 2 to 5 inches long and have an opposite arrangement along the branch.
Summer leaves are dark green changing to a mix of red, yellow and burgundy in fall.  Fall color is not consistent from year to year.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Flowers held in small drooping clusters.  Not ornamentally important.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruit are winged seeds in pairs (samaras).
Seedlings are seldom a problem as most of the seed produced is not viable.

Acer nikoense or Nikko maple