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What is a Shantung Maple?

The Shantung Maple is a resilient, ornamental tree prized for its striking foliage that transitions from glossy green to vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red. Ideal for smaller landscapes, this hardy species offers year-round beauty and shade. Intrigued by how the Shantung Maple could enhance your garden? Discover the secrets to cultivating this arboreal gem in your own backyard.
Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

The shantung maple, also known as the fire dragon maple, is a full-rounded tree that usually grows to about 30 feet (9 meters). It somewhat resembles the sweet gum tree in the color and shape of its leaves. In spring, their leaves begin with a dark burgundy color, gradually turning to green as summer approaches. Their fall foliage is orange, red, and gold. The tree is believed to be native to China.

In North America, the shantung maple is quite popular and is grown all over the continent. They are extremely prominent in the state of Texas because of their high tolerance for alkaline-based soil. Shantung maples have become so popular that the college Texas A&M has given the tree an honored status in its agricultural department.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Shantung maples seem to thrive in many different kinds of soil, though they seem to do best when the soil is sandy and slightly acidic. The amount of sunlight needed to produce healthy plants can vary greatly. They do well in full or partial sun and can even thrive in the shade. Sunlight seems to be an important factor in determining the speed of growth. The more sun the trees receive, the faster they grow.

Life expectancy of these tress can be more than a century, as long as they are carefully planted and tended. The shantung maple can die sooner if it doesn't get the right nutrients or if its roots cannot spread properly. It is generally a good idea to fertilize new trees monthly, especially until their root system is well-established. Shantung maples, as well as all maple trees, are fairly popular, and most nurseries sell fertilizer that is specifically designed for maples.

Shantung maples don't generally thrive in soggy environments. They should not be planted in areas that are prone to flood or in marshy locations. Their roots cannot survive continually moist soil and will likely begin to rot. Soggy soil is also quite often nutrient-deficient, so if planting in this type of location, proper drainage is very desirable.

The shantung maple has a unique ability to survive drought, pollution, high winds and temperature variations as well as be resistant to most pests and disease. Due to their hardy nature, these maples are often found in urban landscaping and are frequently used for sidewalk shade and high-rise courtyards.

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