History of Japanese Maple Trees in Portland

The Japanese Maple Tree has become a popular landscape tree in Portland and it’s easy to see why. With hundreds of cultivars they are prized for their unique foliage and easy care. They fit well in smaller spaces and can be a beautiful centerpiece in any landscape. Their root system takes up less space, making them a fantastic landscaping choice.

Japanese Maple Trees – A Brief History

Japanese Maple Trees are native to Japan, Korea, Eastern Mongolia and southeastern Russia. Japan began cultivating the trees in the 1700s. Swedish doctor and botanist, Carl Peter Thunberg, gave it the name palmatum because of the hand-like shape of the leaves after a trip to Japan in the late eighteenth century. Japanese horticulturists have created hundreds of cultivars over the centuries some of which have been lost in time and the first was introduced to Europe via England in 1820. Cultivars are chosen for the way that they look. Aspects like leaf shape and size, leaf color (ranging from chartreuse through dark green or from red to dark purple, others variegated with various patterns of white and pink), bark texture and color, and growth pattern.

Japanese Maples in Portland

Different leaf colors and shapes.

While Japanese Maples have always been appreciated by garden enthusiasts, it wasn’t until the late 20th century when the trees became available commercially that their popularity exploded and they began popping up in neighborhood landscapes, including Portland.

Japanese Maple at the Japanese Garden in Portland.

Japanese Maple at the Japanese Garden in Portland

Japanese Maple Trees in Portland

Golden Full Moon Maple leaf.

Golden Full Moon Maple leaf

One of the most iconic Acer Palmatums in the northwest is the beautiful maple growing in Portland’s Japanese Garden. With it’s twisting branches and variegated leaves of green and red, the the tree looks beautiful in any season. Having grown for decades and being the most photographed piece in the garden, this tree could be the spark that set off Oregonians love for the species. Once difficult to find, there are now several growers and nurseries that offer a wide variety of cultivars to choose from. River Rock Nursery in Damascus, Oregon has a great selection of new and unique

Japanese Maples, including the Golden Full Moon Maple with unique yellow/orange leaves.

Do you have a Japanese Maple that needs a bit of attention. Give us a call to schedule a time for us to come prune or care for your Portland Japanese Maple.

Leafs -“Acer-palmatum-ssp“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.
Japenese Maple By Jeremy Reding from Seattle, USA (Portland Japanese Garden 2010) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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