Japanese Vine Maple

Acer circinatum

1 Review

Japanese Vine Maple

Acer circinatum

1 Review


How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me


The Vine Maple is an intriguing small native tree that grows 15 to 20 feet tall. It is a close relative of the Japanese maple, but much easier to grow, and much more adaptable to both deep shade and drought. It has attractive, lobed leaves like a hand, which do not dry out in summer, like the leaves of some Japanese maples often do. In fall this tree puts on a brilliant show of orange and red foliage, lightening up the darkest corner. It grows into a small, multi-stemmed tree, 15 or perhaps 20 feet tall. It has the ability to thrive even in the deep shade of evergreen trees, developing a beautiful, open, almost pendulous habit. It full sun it will become more upright, with the strongest fall colors.

  • Easy to grow native tree
  • Vibrant fall colors of orange and red
  • Less than 20 feet tall – ideal for a smaller garden
  • Grows well even in deep year-round shade
  • Easier to grow than Japanese maples, but just as beautiful

Plant the Vine Maple in almost any kind of soil, and it will thrive. This tree grows in well-drained soil, but also in wetter soils. It will grow in full sun, partial shade of full-shade, even below evergreen trees. It needs no special care, and once established it is drought resistant too. It has no particular problems, and if you love the look of Japanese maple, but don’t have the conditions suitable for their growth, then this tree is a great alternative, and a terrific way to fill shady corners of your garden beneath large trees.

Plant Hardiness Zones 5-8
Mature Width 15-20
Mature Height 15-20
Sun Needs Partial Sun, Shade
Zones 5-8

Many people love Japanese Maples for their beautiful foliage and spectacular fall colors. The fact is that they can be tricky to grow, especially in hot and dry areas, so when we discovered that there is a close relative of these exotic trees living right here in America, we naturally got interested. When this tree turns out to be easy to grow, drought resistant once established, able to grow well even in deep shade, and with spectacular fall colors of red and orange on a small tree – we got really interested. If these features interest you too, then the Vine Maple is a tree you need to get to know.

The Vine Maple grows rapidly when young, at 12 to 18 inches a year, so it will only be a few years until it is a good-sized tree. It typically forms a multi-stem tree, but it can easily be trained to have a single trunk. It will reach 15 feet in no more than 10 years, and after that grows more slowly, eventually reaching perhaps 20 feet in height, and an equal width across, if never pruned. It grows well in all light-levels, from full sun to deep shade. In sunny and lightly-shaded locations it will be rounded but upright, in deeper shade it will be wider, more open, and with wide-spreading, arching branches.

Growing Japanese Vine Maple Trees

This tree is an excellent way to landscape beneath tall deciduous trees, without the difficulties of growing Japanese Maples, Rhododendrons, and other plants for shade. It will grow in all kinds of soil, both damp and dry, and resist drought without drying up. It has gorgeous fall leaves in glowing shades or red and orange, which certainly rival any other tree. Yet it is easy to grow and adaptable. It even grows in the shade of Evergreen Trees, a location where very few plants can thrive.

Soil Conditions

The Japanese Vine Maple grows in all kinds of soil, from sandy soils and loams to heavy clays. It will grow in well-drained soil, but also in wetter soil. For the first season or two, keep it well-watered to maximize the growth rate, but once it is established it is resistant to all but severe drought conditions. This tree is very easy to grow, yet it looks like a rare, special specimen that must be difficult. It is far easier to grow than Japanese Maples, yet it has many of their characteristics and looks similar.

History and Origins of the Japanese Vine Maple

This American native tree (Acer circinatum) grows naturally in woodlands from southern British Columbia down into northern California. Interestingly, it only grows in North America, yet its closest relatives are not the Sugar Maple or Red Maple, as we might expect, but the Japanese Maples and Korean Maple that grow on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

Its closest relative is the Autumn Moon Maple, another beautiful maple tree that we often stock at the Tree Center. It can be found growing under larger trees, both deciduous and evergreen, in the forest, making a shrub or small tree 20 feet tall, or sometimes more. The young stems are an attractive shiny green, maturing to a smooth gray-brown color. The branching pattern is graceful and elegant in winter.

The leaves of the vine maple are almost circular in shape, but divided into broad, finger-like lobes. They are 2 to 5 inches long. There are between 7 and 11 lobes on each leaf. They are similar to the attractive foliage of Japanese Maples, but not so finely divided. This feature is helpful in preventing them drying out in summer, which sadly, if not carefully tended, Japanese Maple leaves often do, making them unsightly after spring has passed.

The foliage in spring in delicate and pale green, as it unfolds to greet the new season. It matures into a rich green, spread out like an open hand. Then it fall ,the leaves become brilliant reds and oranges, in shades that are as good as Japanese maples, and indeed match the sugar maple for brilliance and color. Fall color develops best on trees that have half a day of sun, and in deep shade the colors will be more golden.

Adding Japanese Vine Maple Trees to Your Property

This plant is a great alternative to the Japanese Maple, able to take hotter sun, and also thrive in deeper shade. It is not demanding for soil or water. We have a good stock of this plant, but it is rarely offered, and so we anticipate a quick take-up by our regular clients. If you want to enjoy the brilliant fall colors of a wonderful small tree that is adapted to many different situations, then order now, while stocks last.

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Japanese Vine Maple

Acer circinatum

1 Review