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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 maximowiczii (syn. Acer nikoense)

All common names:

Nikko maple

Family (English):

Soapberry (formerly Maple)

Family (Botanic):

Sapindaceae (formerly Aceraceae)

Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

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


  • Alkaline soil

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Intolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Intolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Intolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Intolerant

Ornamental Interest:

  • Fall color

Seasons of Interest:

  • early fall,
  • mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Oval

Growth Rate:

  • Slow

Transplants Well:

  • Yes


  • 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.

Location of Acer maximowiczii (syn. Acer nikoense) (Nikko maple) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.