Content Detail

Shantung maple, an Asian species, makes a good specimen or street tree. It is also small enough to use under power lines. The glossy foliage emerges with a reddish color and then changes to a dark green. In fall, the foliage takes on shades of yellow, orange, red, and even some purple.

  • Family (English) Soapberry (formerly Maple)
  • Family (botanic) Sapindaceae (formerly Aceraceae)
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Under utility lines, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Mature height 20-25 feet
  • Mature width 15-25 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Occasional flooding, Road salt
  • Season of interest early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Yellow
  • Shape or form Round
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Wildlife Insect pollinators
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Shantung maple is native to China, Japan, and Korea.

Bark color and texture: 

Bark is grayish with a hint of purple on young trees. Older bark becomes ridged and furrowed.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

Simple leaves grow in pairs (opposite) and are 3 to 5 inches long and wide. Leaves have five to seven triangular lobes, giving the leaf a star-shaped outline. The dark green leaves emerge with a reddish cast that disappears before summer. In fall, the leaves change to a mix of yellow, red, and orange.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Small, pale yellow flowers form in upright, rounded clusters. Inconspicuous by themselves, they are fairly showy when the whole tree is in flower.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Fruit are winged seeds in pairs (samaras). Each wing is 1 to 1 1/2 inches long and the two wings are spread at a wide angle.

Plant care:

Avoid pruning in early spring as maples are ‘bleeders’ and will lose large amounts of sap.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Susceptible to verticillium wilt and anthracnose. Fairly resistant to leaf scorch.

The cultivars presented here are hybrids resulting from crosses between Acer truncatum (Shantung maple) and Acer platanoides (Norway maple).

Crimson Sunset® maple (Acer truncatum x Acer platanoides ‘JFS-KW202’): 

 A more heat and drought tolerant cultivar with purple summer foliage, Crimson Sunset grows 35 feet high and 25 feet wide.

Norwegian Sunset® maple (Acer truncatum x Acer platanoides ‘Keithsform’): 

This cultivar has a uniform structure and good heat tolerance. Dark green foliage changes yellow-orange to red in fall. Grows 35 feet high and 25 feet wide.

Ruby Sunset® maple (Acer truncatum x Acer platanoides ‘JFS-KW249): 

Dark green, glossy foliage changes to deep red in fall. More compact form, growing 25 feet high and 20 feet wide.


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