Acer carpinifolium

Hornbeam Maple, Zig-Zag Tree

  • Acer carpinifolium

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Min. hardiness zone:
Item ID:

Growing Info

Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours
Stratification: cold stratify for 90 days
Germination: sow seed 1/4" deep , tamp the soil, mulch the seed bed

Other: fall sowing in mulched beds is prefered to artificial stratification 

Introducing the Acer carpinifolium Hornbeam Maple, also known as the Zig-Zag Tree. Native to Japan, specifically on the islands of Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku, this unique species of maple thrives in woodlands and alongside streams in mountainous areas. With a height ranging from 10 to 15 meters, this small deciduous tree features smooth, dark greenish-grey to grey-brown bark that adds an interesting visual element to any landscape.

The leaves of the Acer carpinifolium are 7 to 15 centimeters long and 3 to 6 centimeters broad, simple, unlobed, and pinnately veined with 18 to 24 pairs of veins and a serrated margin. They closely resemble the leaves of hornbeams, hence the name "hornbeam maple." However, they are distinct in their opposite pairs arrangement, and in the very small basal pair of veins being palmately arranged as in other maples.

In spring, as the new leaves begin to open, the Acer carpinifolium produces 1-centimeter diameter, greenish-yellow flowers in pendulous racemes that are 5 to 12 centimeters long. The tree is dioecious, meaning it has separate male and female flowers on different trees. The fruit, a samara, consists of two seeds each with a 2 to 3 centimeter long wing.

While the Acer carpinifolium is occasionally cultivated as an ornamental plant in temperate regions, its main attraction lies in its unique leaf morphology, showcasing the extensive range of leaf shapes within the Acer genus. Additionally, during autumn, this tree delights with its bright yellow foliage. Both the scientific and common names of this tree derive from the resemblance of its leaves to those of the hornbeam genus, Carpinus.

If you are looking to add a touch of uniqueness and beauty to your landscape, consider the Acer carpinifolium Hornbeam Maple. Its distinct features and Japanese origin make it an exceptional choice for avid gardeners and nature enthusiasts alike.

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