Acer shirasawanum Moonrise


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Acer shirasawanum Moonrise is beautiful in the spring and summer with color from pink-red, peach and orange, lime-green and gold.

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Acer shirasawanum Moonrise is a medium size upright maple with varied color throughout the growing season. From pink-red, peach, orange, lime-green and gold – the new growth can be a kaleidoscope of color. The leaves are reticulated and show some variegation on individual leaves from light green to gold, bronze, orange and red. Summer color is yellow-green, gold and orange.

Acer shirasawanum Moonrise was found as a chance seedling and was propagated by Carl Munn of Munn’s Nursery in Oregon. This seedling was most likely from another cousin – Autumn Moon.  Both maples are similar in size and shape but the colored leaves are more vibrant. Both Moonrise and Autumn Moon are related to the ‘Golden Full Moon’ maple – Aureum.   

As a one-woman operation I endeavor to select maples that are more rare and unusual. I have to limit my inventory and when two maples are very similar I usually select one or the other. I thought of discontinuing Autumn Moon in favor of Moonrise, but after a few years of observation I realized that there wasn’t a color change in the fall for Moonrise. The brilliant late summer color just turned brown and the leaves fell off. I wanted to make sure I just didn’t miss the change in color for Moonrise with more than 2,000 maples in my inventory all changing over a period of 4-6 weeks, but I didn’t. No crimson red or orange or gold. I waited for fall again this year and the same thing happened. Well, spring color is one thing, but no fall color is another. I guess I am just going to grow both and be honest about the pros and cons of each. 

This maple grows gracefully as an upright, multi-branched, dwarf maple reaching about 6-7′ tall in 10 years. Like Autumn Moon, some shade during the hottest part of the day is preferred. Overall Moonrise has a compact shape, if pruned regularly, which makes it a good selection for a medium-sized garden. For more information, please see Pruning Japanese Maples. Once established hardy to – 20 degrees, USDA zone 5. 

I do want to make a note of feedback I received from a Facebook Group – Japanese Maples and Conifers. According to several maple-lovers in the mid-west and north east both Moonrise and Autumn Moon can handle full sun without burning. I mention this because it has been reported to me, but I have not tested it for myself. When in doubt provide shade in the hottest part of the day for your location. A second thing I learned from this group is some of the Moonrise maples sold are basically yellow-green without much color variegation. New growth may show some peach or orange color, but not throughout the entire maple as my primary photo shows. Any ideas, please let me know.

The first two photos show container grown maples in my inventory with new spring color. The last photo is Moonrise also grown in a container with partial shade during the summer.

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1 Gallon, 2 Gallon, 3 Gallon

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