Shantung Maple Care:
The shantung maple (Acer rubrum) is one of the most popular species of maples in the world. They are very easy to grow and produce a large number of trees. Shantytowns around the world have been built around these trees because they provide shade during hot summer days and warmth at night.
They are known to be resistant to disease and insects. Their wood is hard, dense and strong. They require little care other than regular pruning and trimming when necessary. They do not need a lot of water or fertilizer. However, they will only survive if given adequate sunlight during the day time so that their leaves don’t wither too much during the winter months.
In the past, shantung maples were used for furniture and flooring. Nowadays, they are grown commercially to make lumber. They are also planted in gardens and landscaped areas as well as cut down for firewood.
Shantung Maple Size:
There are two kinds of shantung maples: Pacific Sunset and Big Tree varieties. Both types have different sizes depending on where they’re from and what kind of climate they grew up in. Big trees are always greater than 50 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. Pacific sunsets are smaller in stature than the Big tree but have trunks greater than 2.5 feet in diameter.
Shantung Maple Tree Growth:
These trees grow rapidly when they’re young but growth slows down after reaching maturity which typically occurs between 30-40 years of age. Trees that are close to the coast grow slower than inland trees which get more water and nutrients. The largest shantung maple in the world is located in Canby, Oregon and is a whopping 115 feet tall and 12 feet wide. It was once used as a fire lookout tower but has since been converted into a platform for birdwatchers.
Shantung Maple Leaves:
These leaves range from 3-10 inches long and 2-5 inches wide. They are typically 5 lobed with wavy edges. They turn a beautiful red, orange and yellow in the fall before falling to the ground. The leaves are very shiny and smooth and have a light 5-pointed shape when looked at from above.
These trees can grow to be very, very large. They can reach up to 115 feet tall with a diameter of 12 feet.
Shantung Maples are very beautiful trees that are fairly common in Oregon and California with some growing in Washington and Idaho. They have a variety of different colors that can range from a dark burgundy to a pale creamy yellow or sometimes even a coppery orange. The leaves turn red, yellow, orange, copper and brown in the fall before they fall off the tree completely. These trees can grow very large and live for a long time, some of the oldest shantung maples are nearly 400 years old!
Shantung Maples can survive and grow in a large variety of soil types including sand, clay and loam. They are very tolerant of soil pH (levels of acidity) but prefer soil that isn’t too acidic or too alkaline. They can survive in hot and dry conditions but prefer a slightly moist soil. They are highly drought tolerant once they’re grown. They can survive in both full sun and full shade conditions but prefer to grow in a partially shaded area.
They also require a lot of room to grow so they don’t need to be planted close together.
These trees generally start to seed (produce acorns) when they’re about 20 years old. Each tree can produce around 100-200 acorns per year which only take 1 year to grow. Acorns can be eaten or used as an ingredient in a wide variety of foods.
These trees are hosts to several different types of fungi and can suffer from root rot, a fungal infection that can cause the roots of the tree to take in toxic amounts of air instead of nutrients if the fungi is left untreated. Ants love to eat the elaiosomes which are the sweet coating around the acorn. They carry the acorns deep down into their underground nests to store them for food throughout the winter. This helps spread the seed and acorns can sometimes grow several feet away from where the tree itself is located.
Shantung Maples are susceptible to a disease known as shantung cancer which causes dark, liver-like growths to form on the branches, trunks and roots of the tree. This disease is caused by a fungus which is attracted to trees that have been injured by insects or mechanical damage to the trunk, construction injuries or long-term water stress.
Shantung Maples are one of the few types of trees that can actually injure people and even kill them. The seed shells and leaves are somewhat sharp and can cause irritation if handled roughly or if someone comes into contact with them without proper clothing. The milky sap can cause a skin irritation and should never be touched, it tends to wash off in the rain but causes a stinging pain if it gets on the skin.
Shantung Maples are primarily used for decoration, shade, erosion prevention, and wildlife food though some people do use its wood to make furniture and other items. It is sometimes used as a windbreak.
The name “Shantung” is a reference to the province in Eastern China that these trees are native to.
Facts About Shantung Maples:
Its scientific name is Acer shantungicum .
. The average height of an adult tree is about 40 meters (131 feet) but some have been known to grow up to 60 meters (198 feet).
Its bark is a brown color with white spots that are about 1 to 2 inches across.
Its leaves are opposite, simple, broad and ovate which means they’re shaped like the head of an axe and have straight edges and flat tops and bottoms. They grow between 2 to 4 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide. The bottom of the leaf is slightly hairy and the top is a dark green in the spring and summer and turns a golden yellow in the fall.
Its white flowers grow on long stems in cylindrical clusters (called an inflorescence). The flowers have a fragrance similar to lily of the valley and are pollinated by bees.
Its fruit is a double samara (called a syncarp) which means it has two winged seeds attached to a central disk. The seeds are flattened, ovoid, between 1 to 1.5 inches long and are light brown to black when mature.
It grows berries (a berry is a non-enclosure fruit that grows off of bushes, vines and canes) that are red when ripe called “shantung berries” which are edible for humans.
The inner bark or phloem of the tree is yellow and sweet but should only be eaten in times of starvation as it doesn’t contain a lot of nutrients.
The peeled young twigs can be eaten and have a slightly sweet taste. They are also good for serving as skewers for cooking meat.
The seed contains between 18% to 30% edible oil which is used in cooking.
Its wood is soft, not very strong but is very good at not splintering or shattering which makes it good for carving into shapes and making toys.
Shantung Maple trees can grow well in wet or dry soil as long as it is not too acidic.
They can be infected by shantung cancer, a fungus that makes dark liver-like growths on the branches, bark and trunk of the tree.
Its Hindi name is “asan” which means “maple.”
It is a close relative of the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum).
It is used as an ornamental (something that is grown for its appearance) in parks and gardens.
Shantung Maples are not used as a food source by any animals in its natural environment.
There are two subspecies: Acer shantungicum subsp. shantungicum and Acer shantungicum subsp. japonicum. The main difference between the two is the leaf shape; subspecies japonicum has the leaf shape of subspecies shantungicum but with serrations (small teeth-like indentations on the edge) on the edge and is covered in hairs.
It is not currently under any threat of extinction.
It is not used in any traditional medicines.
A. shantungicum Essential Oils:
The leaves and twigs contain an essential oil that is used in perfumes, soaps and lotions.
The seed contains between 18% to 30% edible oil that is used as a cooking oil.
Its pollen is allergenic. Its pollen can cause an itchy rash if 5 or more grains are touched. Once the itchy rash appears, it will last for more than 6 weeks.
A. shantungicum Syrup:
The inner bark of A. shantungicum can be used to make a simple syrup.
A syrup is a concentrated aqueous solution of sugar and water. They can be used as a sweetener and as a basis for alcoholic drinks.
A. shantungicum Fruit:
The ripe berries are edible and are used to make jam, wine and an acidic juice.
The bark of the tree contains tannin (used as a help against diarrhea and in the tanning of leather) and can be used to tan leather.
The fruits contain up to 27% tannin.
The fruits are mildly laxative, especially when unripe.
Its seeds contain 50% tannin.
It contains up to 4% essential oils and 4% resins.
The leaves contain up to 5% essential oils.
It contains a substance called shantungine.
Shantungine has no known uses.
A. shantungicum wood:
A. shantungicum wood cannot be used to make things out of due to it being soft and weak.
The shavings are used as a fuel.
The twigs are only strong enough to make small napkin rings out of and maybe coat hangers if they were wrapped in cloth first.
A. shantungicum in History:
In Korea, the inner bark of A. shantungicum has been used to make a drink called gatgoli-cheong.
In Korea, the inner bark of A. shantungicum has been used as a fabric dye to turn textiles green.
The leaves and twigs have been known to be used as toothbrushes in Korea.
The seeds were used as a food source by Native American Indians.
Its use as an ornamental plant can be traced back to the 18th century in England.
In North America, its use as an ornamental plant can be traced back to the 19th century.
The holes in the bark are known to attract certain insects.
The flowers are considered to be a delicacy for bees.
Its scientific name, shantung, originates from the Shandong province in eastern China.
The tree is native to Korea and China.
The leaves of A. shantungicum are thought to resemble the frill-necked lizard (Saharan phytosaurus) and the leaves of a chinese scholar’s tree (Melia azedarach).
Its common name, ‘Shan-Tun’, comes from its scientific name. It was first classified by the German botanist Carl Ludwig Blume in 1830.
A. shantungicum is a deciduous tree that grows to a height of about 4.70m (15ft). Its trunk can reach a maximum diameter of about 40cm (16in).
The flowers are small and green-yellow in colour. They grow in bunches at the tips of branches and in autumn the flowers change into berries of the same colour.
A. shantungicum is commonly found in the wild in Korea and northeastern China.
A. shantungicum prefers growing in a region with high levels of rainfall and humidity. It can also survive in dry conditions due to it having thick, leathery leaves.
It is most commonly found in mountainous region but can be found in the plains.
A. shantungicum prefers acidic and basic (alkaline) soils.
Due to its high resistance to air pollution, A. shantungicum is commonly used as an ornamental plant that can help to purify the air.
A. shantungicum is susceptible to insect infestation by insects such as the bronze green bug (Chrysopidae) and the long horned beetle (Cerambycidae).
The leaves and twigs of A. shantungicum have been used in Korea to dye fabric a yellow-green colour.
In Korea, the seeds can be made into a laxative tea to help with constipation.
The dried flowers of A. shantungicum are known to be mildly toxic and can cause stomach aches if ingested.
A. shantungicum contains no known medicinal uses.
A. shantungicum is not known to be poisonous but the seed husks and leaves can cause skin irritation if handled rashly. Its milky latex is also known to cause skin allergies.
No specific mention of any threats to A. shantungicum has been noted.
Sources & references used in this article:
Relative resistance or susceptibility of maple (Acer) species, hybrids and cultivars to six arthropod pests of production nurseries by BL Seagraves, CT Redmond… – Pest management …, 2013 – Wiley Online Library
Effects of transplanting and irrigation regime on growth and gas exchange of select tree species in a semi-arid climate by LC Fox – 2004 – ttu-ir.tdl.org
Introduction and Cultivation of Money Plant (Lunana annus) in Shandong, The People’s Republic of China by D Jianping – HortScience, 1996 – journals.ashs.org
PEGSMOR: A Way of Thinking about Urban Forest Management by LB Helburg – dnr.wi.gov
Dendroecology of Montpellier maple’s population (Acer monspessulanum) from the North Africa region: Analysis of maple stations characteristics and natural habitat by JC Pair – Journal of Arboriculture, 1994 – International Society of Arboriculture
Rooting stem cuttings of shantung maple (Acer truncatum), mound layering shantung and caddo sugar maples (Acer saccharum), and using eastern redcedar … by K Mechergui, W Jaouadi, ML Khouja – Plant Biosystems-An …, 2018 – Taylor & Francis
Contrasting Ohio nursery stock availability with community planting needs by JA Brock – 2014 – krex.k-state.edu
Salve Regina Arboretum Ten Year Plan to Reach Level III Accreditation by TD Sydnor, S Subburayalu… – … & Urban Forestry. 36 (1): 47 …, 2010 – fs.usda.gov