Korean maple is a beautiful small tree or shrub which closely resembles the Japanese species Siebold’s maple (A. sieboldianum). Both have rather small, round, attractively lobed leaves and a slender layered habit. Since both species are very variable in form, distinguishing one from the other outside their natural range is difficult, and at Mustila the Korean species long had the name-tag Siebold’s maple. One good distinguishing feature is the colour of the flowers, red in Korean and yellow-green in Siebold’s maple.
Korean maple is native to Manchuria, Korea, and around Vladivostok, in the shrub understory of rocky forested slopes. Its brilliant autumn colour is an important component in Korean forests, varying between individuals and areas from orange-yellow to wine red. The brightest colours develop on leaves receiving full sun. In late autumn the dried leaves often remain on the shrubs, decorating them through the winter as their colour gradually fades.
Korean maple breaks into leaf early in spring, so in open and low-lying areas late frosts can cause problems. On mountain slopes it can also be troubled by excessive wetness in winter. If these factors are taken into account, the species makes a magnificent shrub for gardens, parks, woodland gardens. It makes a hardier replacement for the more tender Japanese maple (A. palmatum). On the Terassi (Terrace) at Mustila, Korean maples have been growing successfully since the 1930s.