Thursday, November 08, 2007

'Sango Kaku' Coral Bark Japanese Maple

Coral Bark Japanese Maple
Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’
(AY-ser) (pahl-MAY-tum)
Synonym: Senkaki

Once I saw the light slanting down on the Coral Bark it was time for a picture! I love this little tree and usually plant one or a group in every garden I design. It has a small stature (in this area) for a Japanese Maple and grows in shade, although the twig color appears better in sun. I wouldn’t call it dwarf but it isn’t full size either, it certainly seems to be a semi-slow grower. The lime green foliage is a nice contrast during the spring and summer but the real show starts when the leaves turn bright yellow in the fall. The fall color is very persistent and then seems to drop off all at once to reveal the second show of the coral red twigs and branches for the winter. The branch color does fade a little after the wood ages after several years but it is still very attractive.

I grow several cultivars of Coral Bark Japanese Maple but I think ‘Sango Kaku’ is still my favorite. It is most often available at a reasonable price and more and more nurseries seem to be carrying it. This particular tree has been planted for about 12 years and it is about 12 feet tall with an equal spread. It was planted in heavy shade but a few years ago we had to remove some the trees and branches that were shading it and it literally exploded with growth. It didn’t get much taller, just much thicker and more graceful.

I strongly recommend this tree.

Here is a link to World, which shows some of the other Coral Bark Japanese Maples available.
world bark


Ki said...

Very lovely photo of sunlight through the leaves. I was just in the yard yesterday and noticed the morning light making the leaves of the Sango kaku beautifully golden. So I took some photos of the tree too. I'll post them before the end of the week.

When I moved the tree from the front of the house which faces north to a more sheltered place in the back, the tree really started growing. In the last two years since the move it's grown more than 6 feet. It may be the cold that's keeping the trees in your area small.

Sorry for the long winded comment but I read an article that said the Sango kaku in Japan doesn't get the brilliant gold leaves in fall and the color of the bark is more pink than red so they thought the Sango kaku we have here is a completely different tree than what they have in Japan. Will post all that info along with my photos.

Vanillalotus said...

Beautiful color. I love japanese maples they are so very elegant.

Phillip said...

I have always wanted this tree and I finally planted one a few years ago. It is still rather small but I expect it will kick in next year. Now I am fantasizing about the "Butterfly" Japanese maple.

Ki said...

Hi Phillip,
I have a 'Butterfly' and it is indeed a beautiful slow growing little tree with small leaves edged in white. I would urge you to get it. I bought my tree from World Plants. They have small 1 year grafts for about $15.00 plus shipping. I bought about 15 Japanese maple trees from them without any dying.

Hey Chris sorry to use this comment feature as a forum.

Digital Flower Pictures said...


No problem, you are welcome to use this comment area anyway you want. You were one of the earliest supporters of this blog and I appreciate that. I have noticed that some 'Sango Kaku' have very red bark and some have pink bark. I just thought that it was seed variation but did wonder about it. I will look forward to your post.

Phillip, You will love 'Butterfly'. This is again a tree with a little variation. I planted one about 15 years ago that has grown 8 feet tall with a 15 foot spread and I planted one about 12 years ago that is about 5 feet tall with a similar spread. You have to watch for reversions to all green on 'Butterfly'. They are easy to remove if caught semi-early.

Vanilla, thanks again for stopping by.

Annie in Austin said...

Hi Chris [and Ki],

I'm delurking to say how much I'm enjoying these Japanese Maple posts and discussions - your photos are so beautiful! It would take a lot of soil amendment and siting, but maybe some day I'll try one.

How interesting that trees can change their physical characteristics when moved to the US.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Hi annie, I have seen Japanese Maples growing in some strange places and climates before. Might be a conversation piece at your place.

Dan said...

You have great tree images!