Acer palmatum Koto no ito in Japanese means ‘Harp Strings’ because of the thin green leaves. It is also nicknamed the ‘Dancing Monkey Tree’ because the leaves hang down and whip around when the wind blows. Another great characteristic of this maple is the change in leaf size as the maple matures. The newest leaves emerge fatter compared to the older leaves on lower branches. As the maple ages, subsequent leaves become thinner, more linearilobum in nature. Koto no ito can handle mostly full sun to partial shade.
Koto no ito grows to around 6-7′ tall and 4′ wide in 10 years. The growth habit is like a ‘vase or V-shape’. Branches that grow between the V shape of the maple should be removed to allow for air flow and to reduce the number of dead leaves that get stuck during the fall and winter. Dead leaves that remain on maples can cause mold or mildew issues. As well as holding more snow and ice during winter months. For more information please see Pruning Japanese Maples.If you are worried about the V branch structure breaking in the winter with snow and ice – I suggest using some green gardening tape, the kind that stetches, and tie around the branches for added support. I double the tape for strength. Eventually this type of tape will weather and fall off.
Koto no ito is a lovely green maple spring and summer. Then as temperatures fall and days become shorter the maple is stressed which creates the fantastic fall color which evolves from gold to orange to scarlet. This small shapely maple is ideal for a small garden or patio container. Once established this cultivar is hardy to USDA zone 5.
If you love Japanese Maples as much as I do, you can learn more about these amazing trees by joining the Facebook Group – Japanese Maples and Conifers.It is free to join – you just have to be a Facebook member. The contributors to the group have a wealth of experience and post many photos.
The first photo shows one of the Koto no ito maples in my inventory. The other two photos show the change in color during the fall.