Shantung Maple Care: Learn About Growing Shantung Maples

By: Teo Spengler

Shantung maple trees (Acer truncatum) look like their cousins, Japanese maple. If you want to know how to grow a Shantung maple, read on. You’ll also find Shantung maple facts that might make you decide to give these little trees a place in your garden.

Shantung Maple Facts

Almost any garden is big enough for one or two Shantung maple trees. The slender trees generally don’t get taller than 25 feet (7.6 meters) in the sun, or even less in the shade.

Those growing Shantung maples appreciate their interesting trunks and the bright yellow flowers the tree produces every spring. New leaves grow in a bronze-purple shade, but mature to a lively green.

These small trees are among the first to show fall color. And the show is spectacular. The green leaves turn a gorgeous golden yellow flecked with red. Then they deepen to bight orange and finally turn into a gorgeous blazing red.

Shantung maple trees work well as small shade trees and can live a long time. According to Shantung maple facts, some live up over a century. This pleases wild birds that are attracted by them too.

How to Grow a Shantung Maple

The trees thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. They are not picky about exposure, so you can start growing Shantung maples in full sun or full shade. They also thrive in a seaside planting in mild climates.

Shantung maple trees accept many different types of soil. You can plant them in moist or dry soil that is clay, loam or even sand. They like acidic soil but tolerate soil that is slightly alkaline.

Shantung maple care is not difficult or time consuming. You’ll need to irrigate the trees generously the first season after transplant. Care also includes watering during dry spells even after the tree roots establish.

Feeding the trees is also a part of Shantung maple care. Fertilize them in late February with a complete and slow-release fertilizer.

The trees can attract aphids, so keep your eye out for these small, sap-sucking bugs. Often, you can wash them from leaves and stems with the hose, or spray them with soapy water. The trees can also be susceptible to root rot and verticillium, but they are resistant to leaf scorch.

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Acer truncatum Heat Tolerant Shantung Maple

Purchase Acer truncatum heat tolerant shantung maple via mail-order at our online store. Acer truncatum is a gorgeous golden fall color shantung maple. A purchase of a Acer truncatum heat tolerant shantung maple is a true investment in your yard! Acer truncatum 'Shantung' is the heat tolerant shantung maple for you. Buy this Acer truncatum shantung maple tree online with confidence at our online Japanese maple store .

Acer truncatum is an extremely heat tolerant fast growing tree with great fall color. Known as the Shantung maple, this Acer truncatum first starts the spring with bright yellow blossoms across the tree. As the leaves emerge, green pointed leaves display over the rigid fissured bark. Fall color is a bright yellow to orange. Acer truncatum may reach 35 ft in 15 years. Acer truncatum can handle full sun and is a fast growing tree, providing shade as it ages.

Purchase Acer truncatum heat tolerant shantung maple via mail-order at our online store. Acer truncatum is a gorgeous golden fall color shantung maple. A purchase of a Acer truncatum heat tolerant shantung maple is a true investment in your yard! Acer truncatum 'Shantung' is the heat tolerant shantung maple for you. Buy this Acer truncatum shantung maple tree online with confidence at our online Japanese maple store

Limited Quantities Available !! As we have over a thousand cultivars of Japanese maples, we often do not have many of each cultivar. We recommend that you buy Japanese maples you want immediately as we often sell out of certain selections.


The Shantung maple is also called “Purple Blow” because of the reddish-purple color of its leaves during the spring. The color of its foliage during the summer months is determined by the pH level of the soil and the amount of sun the tree is exposed to, color ranges from a dark red to green. But what makes it a well-known Texas Superstar tree is the spectacular color that it provides in the fall. After surviving the heat of summer, it creates a show of brilliant red foliage during the fall.

  • The Shantung maple is also known as Acer truncatum.
  • In 2003 Texas A&M University listed it as a “Texas Superstar” tree because of its outstanding ability to withstand the Texas sun, drought and high winds.

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Is this normal for a Shantung Maple tree?


I haven't checked, buy you could try Green Mama's in North Richland Hills, Blooming Colors in Grapvine, or Growit in Coppell. I'd call them first to see what they have. Blooming Colors is the largest of the 3.

Try Rohde's in Garland. I bought a 5 gal Shantung there 4 years ago, maybe they're still selling them.


I wouldnt waste my time with a shantung maple. I struggled to keep mine happy for 3 years. The leaves always burned and dropped before any fall color could be seen. Everytime I see one at the nursery it looks stressed and unhappy. If you really want one than Strongs nursery in Carrollton carries them. I wouldnt waste my time though. You'd be better off with one of the new red ash cultivars, red oak, or cedar elm. The red ash is an absolute knock out.


Interesting comments. 1st year my SM 'firedragon' stressed badly - thought it died. Came back strong this year. Leaves finally started burning late in summer. Held leaves better this year, but didn't get the spectacular color. My water was very sodic, but source has changed and I'm hoping the 'new' river water will be better. I've had two growing seasons. Guess I'll see what happens next year before I give up.


I've found that fall planting is by far the best time to plant SMs. If planted in the spring, they will just sulk there rest of the year before doing a lot better next year.

Here's the latest pictures..

They just don't like excessive wet ground so it's best to plant where water won't pool and be slow to drain whenever it rains. It is very sensitive to weed killer 2,4-d, so if it gets accidentally spread on the leaves, you could see a lot of damages or even death. I'm not sure about weed n feed type though but I've read that it not be used at all around them. I wouldn't try to push growth during the summer with synthetic fertilizer when it's very hot and dry. Organic fertilizer would be best during the summer. I tried that and paid the price. Keep synthetic fertilizer for spring (mid-march) and fall (October) only. Again in May would probably be ok too but absolutely no synthetic fertilizer during the summer as it would increase water demand. Keeping a wide area of mulch for at least several years seems to help a lot while they get established without having to compete with grass for nutrients.


Where did you get yours from? I've seen fake/improperly labeled ones at Lowe's in the past. Supposedly, Calloway's sold wrong ones years ago from what I was told. I'm sorry you didn't have success with yours. It's a nice tree. Probably the easiest maple to grow in my rocky limestone soil as long as I don't use that weed killer.


Nice!! I got mine at MetroMaples. Glad to see yours doing so well. I still have hope. Mine did much better this year. Looking forward to next year.


I planted an 8' Fire Dragon Shantung Maple last fall from Metro Maples. This year, it was absolutely stunning! Metro Maples may be a long haul for some, but if you're spending over $100 on a tree, it's worth the investment in time and effort to get a tree that you know is healthy and of high quality. I wish we had room for a half dozen more maples!

You might see if Metro Maples will deliver for you.


Well Lou, that does look like the best one i've seen. But i'd still not risk it. I'd go native any day over exotic. Natives are the only plants I cant kill. I've lost so many japanes maples its not even funny. Strongs nursery had a purple ash this year that was amazing. To the OP thats the best advice I can give you. Depending on your soil i'd recommend a sweet gum, purple ash, or red oak for fall color.

Lou I'm curious as to what type of soil you have. I have Callisburg sandy loam. It drains really fast and has zero calcium. Maybe the shantung likes a different soil. Did you amend you soil at all when you planted?


Forgot to mention we moved out of the house where the SM was planted. I still drive by every summer to take a peek and it still looks pitiful as hell. Its been in the ground about 5 years now and I would have chopped it down if we still lived there.

On a side note I have two parsley hawthorns that are absolutely thriving. They have incredible fall color, spring flowers, and red berries for the birds. I think their leaves and branching structure are on par with any japanese maple. They probably get the same size as a shantung but may need some shade. I still say go native.


I live on limestone rubbles. Not easy task for digging holes to plant trees, etc. All trees grow in that ground without amendment. I just dig a wide shallow hole, getting rid of large rocks that are in the way and plant them followed by compost and mulch on top. Sweetgum and Japanese maples will never thrive in it. I googled purple ash and it seems to have a lot of problems. Texas has its own native ash so called Texas Ash but I rarely ever see them sold in nurseries. Texas Red oak is nice but never sold in nurseries. Shumard red oak is what everybody sells but not as good fall color as Texas Red oak. 'Fire Dragon' shantung maple consistently has better red fall color than red oak trees around here every year. Red oak is very susceptible to oak wilt though. I don't really care much for term 'native' at all. Doesn't really mean anything anyway. We live in houses where soil is absolutely destroyed by builders and it's not native anymore. We use all kinds of chemicals to poison our lawn. Not native anymore. We live in artificial environment now.

Metro Maples where I got 'Fire Dragon' from sits on pure sand soil. They do fine there during dry years. Maybe you didn't get actual shantung maple? I've seen Norway maples labeled as shantung maple sold at big box stores in the past. Maybe the current owners of your house used weed killer? It's very sensitive to weed killer 2, 4-d. Who knows why yours didn't thrive.


I've been to metro maples and seen how well they do there. He's also told me his water bill could pay the lease for a Maserati.

Fall color is great but it doesnt do much for the birds and bees. Texas should look like Texas.

Go down to North Haven Gardens or Strongs Nursery in August and tell me how good their shantungs look.

The native movement isnt for everyone, but neither is logic. It makes too much sense for me to ignore millions of years of evolution. Its easy enough to get local tree trimmings and leaves dumped in your yard to build back the native soil.


Here's a sumac that grows on limestone, looks the part, feeds the birds and butterflies, and probably takes half the water a shantung uses.

Here is a link that might be useful:


Well, I'm growing Montezuma cypress which is native to Texas but it probably needs more water than shantung maple. Same for bald cypress which can have spectacular fall color. I've grown several dozens of shantung maples from seeds and I pulled one out of container because I didn't like its form and threw it on the bare ground and left it for dead. It was still growing and thriving after 6 months with whole root ball exposed. I finally threw it in the trash can recently. Tough plant.

Metro Maples has shantung maples that was never watered and they survived 2005-2006 in sandy soil so that should show how drought hardy they are.

I've been to North Haven and I do better job of taking care of trees than they did. <>Fire Dragon
<>Shantung maples

Who could not recommend shantung maples? They look great during the summer from those colorful summer growth.


My favorite shantung maple that I've grown from seed. It just glows in the sun! Nice yellow fall color.

Another shantung maple I've had since 2006 - click on it to see the progression over the years. I got it from Lowe's in 2006 when they sold the actual shantung maples.

My favorite 'native' tree - Montezuma cypress - it's at Stephen F Austin State University. I have 8 seedlings from that tree now. Just waiting to see which one has best "winter" color as it tends to stay green into the winter unlike bald cypress.

Here's a spectacular bald cypress a couple miles from my house - I just planted a very nice 20 months old seedling from that tree in my next door neighbor's backyard so I could enjoy the view of such nice cypress with deep green foliage that I never see in my town.
<>From Cypress tree


Lou, so you determinted that that awesome Cypress near your home was Bald Cypress and not Montezuma? You were able to tell from the seed? The two I bought from Shades of Green continue to languish.

Toby, I've seen the trees at Strongs and know what you mean. I have a suspicion that those aren't the same tree Metro is selling. As a whole I'm very disappointed with area nursuries. many are selling junk. I understand your point about natives but I've planted many natives and am just looking to branch out a bit. It seems that I just need to pay a visit to Metro. That Sumac looks stunning. I see seedlings all over the roadside in the country where I live.


A taxodium expert from Stephen F Austin State University (SFA) seemed to think it must have originated from central Texas due to its seed size which is in between MC and eastern Texas BC. He did thought at first that it looked like Montezuma cypress when I emailed him a picture. I sent him some seeds and he grew some. Turns out he likes them. Anyway, I grew some last year and they aren't that fast growing like Montezuma cypress. That's one clue. May not be obvious at first though. He also told me that central TXBC tend to do better in alkaline rocky soil compared to eastern TXBC. I guess it is obvious since I've seen large ones on Guadalupe River and Rio Frio in central Texas that flows through on limestone bedrock.

The easiest to tell them apart is by just waiting to see which one turns color in the fall. Bald cypress tends start turning color in November while Montezuma cypress tend to start turning color in December/January depending on seed source. The ones from New Mexico seemed to almost stay completely evergreen in the winter in DFW. Supposedly, that's the most cold hardy MC they've found.

Personally, I'd never buy BCs at nurseries in DFW unless they guarantee that it's from central Texas. So far, no luck so I am attempting to grow some seeds from central Texas. If you want MC, Chambersville Tree Farm is your best place for large quality size and everything. For some reason, 3/5g size don't look good probably because the black rootmaker container gets very hot in the summer while the larger white fabric bag Root Trapper stays a lot cooler. I grow trees in them and I'm a big fan of it. I really liked that place.


Willy, I'm pretty sure that the shantung's at North Haven are metro maples stock. I've seen the mm tags on them. Not sure about strongs. Both places have burnt leaves every time i've seen them. Same with their japanese maples. I'll never even think about buying one of those again.

Lou's probably right in saying that they arent being cared for right. I think maples are very picky about fertilizers, drainage, salty water, soil PH, and exposure.

I did have a japanes maple I planted in the shade and forgot about after the cable guy stepped on it and broke it below the graft. It had sprouted leaves and was doing just fine thriving on 6 months worth of neglect. Maybe they need to be left alone.

I'd say if your stuck on a Shantung get a one gallon and give it lots of mulch and compost. If Lou can grown one in 3" of soil sitting on that caliche limestone mess you can do it.

There's a few natives i've seen growing on limestone that are just as nice as shantung. You should check out mexican buckeye, texas buckeye, and carolina buckthorn. Not quite shade trees but very interesting.
Texas Buckeye

Shantung Maple Facts - How To Grow A Shantung Maple In The Landscape - garden

Cultivars of Acer truncatum

    In recent times the discovery of a wide range of sizes, habits, and colors of Shandong maples is revealed, many cultivars arising from Metro Maples, Fort Worth, TX.  Many were created by inbreeding of the first cultivar ‘Fire Dragon ’ ® (PP#17367), but I believe the unusual amount of heat in Fort Worth with its related stress, combined with an unique growing style also played an important part.

В В В В Many cultivars are propagated in limited quanity and only available at Metro Maples.В В More recent discoveries are yet to be fully tested and made available to the public.В В The possibilities are endless though, if enough people take the time and effort to find and share great new plants.

See bottom for licensing and propagation rights to grow either ‘Fire Dragon ’ , ‘Super Dragon’, or ‘Baby Dragon’, all are fully patented and federally trademarked.

В Patented Cultivars:В В Then Mid-size and new Dwarfs

‘ Fire Dragon’ TM Shandong Maple.  PP #17,367.

The first truncatum cultivar was ‘Fire Dragon ’ В® .В В A chance seedling in 1999 it was so brilliant red in the fall that propagation began in year 2002 and by 2006 there were already 4,000 of them from one small seedling.В В It is a little lighter green than normal in summer after starting the year with a distinctive burnt orange coloration.В В Summer growth colors can be red but never the usual reddish-purplish.В В The leaf is smaller than typical with prominent teeth, sometimes with rearwards facing basal lobes (not truncate), and the 5 leaf lobes are equal in size giveing a rounded, more elegant appearance.В В (Trees grown in cooler climates may have longer central lobes and more wavy margins.)В В Vigorous to 35 feet tall and wide.В В

‘Fire Dragon ’ ® is Available at:

Metro Maples, Fort Worth, TX

Tree Town USA, Winnsboro, TX

Sooner Plant Farm, Park Hill, OK

Munn’s Nursery, Brooks, OR

Greenleaf Nursery, Park Hill, OK

The Tree Place, Fort Worth, TX

Acer truncatum ‘Mainstreet’ TM PP#20109

A rival to ‘Fire Dragon’, it grows with an upright pyramidal shape to 30 feet tall by 20 feet wide.  Central leaf lobe is longer and leaf base is truncate.  Introduced by Mark Weathington, currently Director at JC Raulston Arboretum.

Hale and Hines Nursery, McMinniville, TNВ

Bold Springs Nursery, Hawkinsville, GA

Acer truncatum ‘Baby Dragon’ TM (PP# 26,612)

A very small leaf dwarf with a dense, mounding and weeping habit.В В Could grow to 9 feet high by 15 feet wide in twenty years but can be more upright in shade.В В Exhibits exceptional pink to purplish-red new growth colors all year long.В В Yellow fall colors that can be mixed with red and orange.В В A vigorous grower that is also well suited for patio or bonsai use.

‘Baby Dragon ’ ® is available at Metro Maples.

Acer truncatum ’Super Dragon’ TM  (PP#26,414)

A mid-size Shandong maple with exceptional greenish-yellow leaf color all growing season.В В New growth is orange, pink or pinkish-red over the yellow leaves.В В Main leaf veins are a much lighter yellow to white, and a striking contrast.В В Grows to 15 feet tall to 20 feet wide in a fountain shape with long branches but small side branches.В В Takes the hot sun better than most yellow leaf maples but should receive some afternoon, or late afternoon protection in extremely hot climates (like Texas).

Available at Metro Maples.

Acer truncatum x A. platanoides ‘Crimson Sunset’ TM (PP# 21,838)

A hybrid cross of Shandong with Norway maple with purple leaves that persist throughout summer with increased heat tolerance from its Shandong parent.  Very similar tree in all appearances to Norway maple ‘Crimson King’ has a pyramidal shape 35 ‘ x 25’.  Other new hybrids include ‘Norwegian Sunset’ ® , ‘Pacific Sunset’ ® , ‘Ruby Sunset’ ® , and ‘Urban Sunset’ ® .

Available at J. Frank Schmidt Nursery, Boring, OR.

Acer truncatum ‘Blaine’s Dragon’

A mid-size tree growing to 18 feet tall by 15 feet wide.В В Very large leaf with 2 sets of prominent teeth on the lobes.В В New growth colors of pink and greenish-yellow and excellent red fall color.

Occasionally available at Metro Maples.

Acer truncatum ‘Doric Dragon’

Columnar to 40 feet tall by 15 feet wide.В В Summer growth a deep purplish-red with a normal truncate leaf shape.В В Attractive bark.В В Listed as mid-size as even though it gets tall, the trunk and branches are smaller than normal for a tree of this height.В В Yellow fall colors.В В

Occasionally available at Metro Maples.

Acer truncatum ‘Fiya Dragon’

Very similar to ‘Fire Dragon’ ® except ‘Fiya Dragon’ has a much slow growth rate and smaller leaves.  Leaves are about half the size and also have wavy margins (see center above comparing the larger ‘Fire Dragon’ ® and the smaller ‘Fiya Dragon’ and even smaller ‘Flower God’).  Growth rate on ‘Fiya Dragon’ is one foot per year to 15 feet.

Occasionally available at Metro Maples.

Acer truncatum ‘Golden Dragon’

Selected from many trees that had a leaf with prominent teeth and backward facing basal lobes that would also color-up at the same time, and compliment ‘Fire Dragon’.  Mature height 25 feet by 35 feet wide.  Vigorous growth, especially horizontally, giving a little weeping appearance when branches are full of leaves.  Fall color is usually solid golden yellow.  Summer growth is a bright reddish-purple.

Occasionally available at Metro Maples.

Acer truncatum ‘Skinny Dragon’

Narrow skinny lobes with wavy margins and slightly rolled that will flatten out in the heat.В В Vigorous grower to 20 feet tall and 18 feet wide.В В Fall colors are yellow but can be orange to red.В В

Occasionally available at Metro Maples.

Acer truncatum ‘Sugar Dragon’

Variegated cultivar with lots of pink and yellow new growth, turning to green and white.В В Yellow fall colors.

Not currently available at Metro Maples, now under phase 2 propagation to ensure stability of variegation patterns.

Acer truncatum ’TARP Dragon’

The first of the smaller mid-size trees was ‘Tarp Dragon’ it grows slowly to only 15 feet.  It also has the most beautiful leaf with sharp teeth on every lobe and rearward facing basal lobes.  Early spring colors are very nice with reds but doesn’t last long.  Fall colors are yellow, occasionally mixed with red.  TARP was named during the bank bailout program but actually stands for ‘targeted acer reduction program’ as many customers thought a thirty foot ‘Fire Dragon’ ® to be too big.  I’ve turned the original TARP into a bonsai, and it has exceptional looking bark.  Size is 15 x 15 feet.

Occasionally available at Metro Maples.

Acer truncatum ‘Eye of the Dragon’

Small leaf dwarf cultivar from ‘Fire Dragon’ ® seed it has a rounded tumbleweed shape with colorful new growth and fall colors.  Leaves slightly smaller than ‘Baby Dragon’ ® with narrower lobes and with more taper.  It grows many long and slender shoots off the trunk and main branches, with very little short side branches.  Fall colors go from pink to orange to red.  Size is 9 x 12 feet.

Watch the video: Shantung Maple Bonsai update

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