Weeping Full Moon MapleAcer japonicum ‘Green Cascade’
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Acer japonicum ‘Green Cascade’
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Weeping Full Moon Maple is a rare and unique Japanese maple that forms a broad mound of weeping branches, reaching 4 feet within 10 years, and maturing at 6 to 8 feet. It will spread outwards 8 or even 10 feet across. The intricate branching is beautiful in winter, and in spring the leaves are bright chartreuse, turning rich green through summer. In fall they turn spectacular and vibrant shades of golds, oranges and reds – a truly wonderful sight. The leaves are divided into many very narrow threads, radiating out like fingers and repeatedly dividing into lacy patterns. A truly wonderful specimen tree, perfect for Asian-themed gardens, by water or in a beautiful container.
Plant your Weeping Full Moon Maple in full sun in cooler zones, or in morning sun and afternoon shade everywhere. It grows best in soil that is rich and moist, but well-drained, and water new plants frequently. Established trees have some resistance to short periods of drought. This tree is rarely troubled by pests or diseases, and needs no pruning or trimming to keep its unique cascading form.
Japanese maples come in many forms, from strongly upright to almost creeping varieties. The Full Moon Maple is a different species, and it contains just a few, highly desirable varieties. This type of maple grows best in colder areas and is usually more cold-resistant than many of the true Japanese maple forms. As well, the broad-spreading leaflets give it a unique ‘full’ look, even when the leaflets are deeply divided like lace. That is what you see when you gaze on the beautiful leaves of the ‘Green Cascade’ Full Moon Maple, but for this gorgeous and rare tree, that is only the beginning. As you might guess, it forms a wonderful broad, rounded shrub with branches that grow out horizontally or descending, to give you a perfect form where you want a tree that isn’t going to grow tall. Topping out in maturity at around 6 feet only, it’s especially lovely in fall, when its leaves turn marvelous shades of gold, orange and red. Truly a spectacular, top-quality and outstanding maple coveted by collectors around the world.
The Weeping Full Moon Maple is a moderate-growing small deciduous tree, usually with several stems. In good growing conditions, it should be at least 4 feet tall and wide within 10 years, growing larger every year. It matures over time into a broad, mounding bush, reaching 6 or possibly 8 feet tall and spreading between 6 and even 10 feet across. The branches spread wide, forming broad umbrellas, very different from the normal upright form of the Full Moon Maple. The smooth, reddish-brown bark of young branches becomes rough and more textured as it ages, and the network of branches is a beautiful sight in winter.
The leaves emerge in early spring, a bright, glowing chartreuse green, maturing to a bright green over summer. The large leaves are rounded and 3 to almost 6 inches across. They may be large, but this isn’t obvious, because they are divided into many very slender lobes. Usually between 7 and 11 narrow lobes radiate out from the central leaf stem, and each one divides and divides again, forming amazing delicate lace-like patterns. Every leaf is a work of art. In fall the leaves turn extraordinary shades of yellow, orange and red, often all at the same time, and often climaxing in a ball of fiery red. Full Moon Maples have a reputation for spectacular fall color, and the Weeping Full Moon Maple won’t let you down. Older trees may surprise you with a crop of small, inch-long maple ‘keys’, visible after the leaves fall.
Wherever you need a low, broad mound of beautiful foliage, the Weeping Full Moon Maple is going to be it. Plant it by a pond, or in the front areas of a bed. Grow it to spread out over boulders, or spill over a low wall. Plant it with other maples – it looks stunning against the classic red-leaf types. Use it as a specimen in an Asian-themed planting, and you can even grow it in a planter – perhaps a beautiful Asian ceramic pot. Make sure any planter you choose has drainage holes.
More cold-resistant than many ‘palmatum’-type Japanese maples, the Weeping Full Moon Maple is reliable throughout zone 5, and should grow in sheltered spots in warmer parts of zone 4 with minimal damage. It enjoys areas with cooler, moist summers, so zone 7 is typically its upper reach, although in the northwest it will grow through the warmer zones of Washington and Oregon. Zone 6 is probably the limit for keeping a plant in a pot outdoors all winter.
In cooler zones, with good soil moisture, this tree will grow perfectly in full sun, and develop excellent fall color. In most areas, though, it is best to compromise, with morning sun but light shade in the afternoon. Too much shade will reduce the vigor, and produce fewer red shades in fall. The perfect soil is rich, always moist, but well-drained, although well-established plants can tolerate some dryness in summer. Add plenty of organic material when planting, and use it every year or two as mulch, covering the whole root zone. Water young plants regularly, and give established ones a deep soak during summer dry spells.
Generally free of any significant pest or disease problems, the Weeping Full Moon Maple is actually easy to grow if you have a good location and appropriate watering. Apart from removing any dead twigs in spring, as the leaves are emerging, it needs no pruning – let it develop its natural form.
The beauty of Japanese maples never ends, and their world spreads wide, including not just the many, many varieties of the normal ‘Japanese maple’, Acer palmatum, but other species as well. The most prized and coveted in Japan is the Full Moon Maple, confusingly called Acer japonicum by botanists. The romantic name ‘Full Moon’ evokes the way the leaflets fan out into an almost perfect circle, and it’s a name that in Japan is also given to another maple, Acer shirasawanum. A popular variety of Full Moon Maple is ‘Aconitifolium’, which has deeply-dissected leaves that resemble lace, similar to the Dissectum group of Acer palmatum. In the late 1960s the nurseryman Arthur ‘Art’ Wright found a seedling, presumably of ‘Aconitifolium’, that had similar leaves, but whose branches spread outwards and cascaded downwards. Art worked closely with the famous J. D. Vertrees, whose nursery in southern Oregon was a pilgrimage site for maple enthusiasts (his book on Japanese maples is the bible for all maple lovers). Art Wright had a reputation for only releasing the very best of any new plants he found. So he didn’t release many, but those he did were always the highest quality. He named his beautiful new maple tree ‘Green Cascade’, releasing it in 1973. It is sometimes offered with that name, and also as the Weeping Full Moon Maple – there isn’t another one.
This wonderful tree was given the highly-coveted Award of Garden Merit in 2012 by Britain’s prestigious Royal Horticultural Society. A plant needs no further recommendation than that. Sought after by collectors, the Weeping Full Moon Maple always remains elusive and in short supply. We found some beautiful young trees for you, but don’t hesitate – they will soon all be gone.