Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Coral Bark Japanese Maple
Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

Family: Sapindaceae (sap-in-DAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Acer (AY-ser) (Info)
Species: palmatum (pahl-MAY-tum) (Info)
Cultivar: Sango kaku
Additional cultivar information: (aka Senkaki, Sango-kaku)

» View all varieties of Japanese Maples

13 vendors have this plant for sale.

24 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Palmatum (deeply divided leaves)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From hardwood cuttings
By grafting
By budding

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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There are a total of 53 photos.
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20 positives
2 neutrals
6 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Jan 3, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A beautiful small vase-shaped tree that does well here in Boston Z6a. The young bark colors up vividly only in winter and early spring.

Spring foliage is a vivid chartreuse (yellow-green), often leaves also have a reddish edge. Leaf color turns more mid-green in summer. Leaf shape is like the species and not deeply dissected.

Fall foliage color is a good gold, but like all Japanese maples it's often hit by frost here before the fall color peaks. (Our average first frost is Oct 31, and Acer palmatum fall color usually peaks in the second week of November if first frost is late.)

Negative dezignlady On Sep 1, 2014, dezignlady from Indianapolis, IN wrote:

I live in central Indiana, zone 5b/6. I purchased one of the coral bark maples to replace a tree lost earlier last year. I was very excited about the bark- and fall-interest of the variety. It was growing quite well and seemed to be doing great. But this spring after all the snow had melted and it finally warmed everything above the snow pack had died. Speaking with a JMaple grower from central Ohio this past spring he told me that the coral barks were not solidly hardy anywhere in the midwest and advised me to not put another one back in. He said he had tried to grow them but could never get the to thrive or survive in his nursery. I dug up the remaining plant, good thing we had so much snow last winter, and have it in a pot so that I can move it to a secure protected spot for the winter, it's sort of a dwarf shrub now. Sad they are so stunning.

Positive elsutor On May 19, 2014, elsutor from Penn Hills, PA wrote:

A really beautiful tree. Mine is planted in an Eastern exposure and receives direct sun until shortly after lunch.

We purchased it at my husband's insistence, even though I tried to tell him it was a terrible specimen-- it looked like someone had just chopped the top off to get it to fit into a truck. He's not a gardener, but he's cute, so he gets his way when deigns to accompany me to the nursery. Regardless, it does really well, except that I am still trying to figure out how to prune it back into shape.

It received a fairly severe haircut this spring, as my goals are to give it a more natural look while avoiding whorls that have five and six branches sprouting, and growth in the bottom 3-4 ft. The tree didn't skip a beat.

Highly recommended for winter interest and general health in our zone 6, Pittsburgh, PA garden. I hate it when DH is right!

Neutral bobbieberecz On Jul 8, 2013, bobbieberecz from Concrete, WA wrote:

My little tree (about 5 ft) has been in my sandy-loam, nutritionally mulched and well-watered soil for 2 years now. It has lovely bark and healthy leaves. Gets morning shade and about 5 hours of warm to hot afternoon sun. My neutral rating is because it hasn't grown one inch in 2 years and neither has my Bloodgood Japanese maple. I understand slow growing but these are the first trees (I've invested in dozens of all varieties of trees) that haven't grown a whit since planting them!!

Positive RayFromPA On Jun 30, 2011, RayFromPA from Fleetwood, PA wrote:

@ Oaklandguy, I bought a Sango Kaku in a 3 gallon container and it was a beautiful deep red with gorgeous green leaves. Sounds like he was trying to unload some bad trees.

Coral Bark is a beautiful tree, and my absolute favorite J. Maple followed by Osakazuki.

Positive OaklandGuy On Apr 15, 2011, OaklandGuy from Oakland, CA wrote:

Purchased a 15 gal one a couple of years ago. Love it. It really brightens up the yard in winter. Just watch out for leaf burn - protect it from hot, dry wind, and leech excess salt from the soil.

One question. I'm thinking of buying more. When I came across some 5 gal plants with poor color (totally grey in the trunk and barely pink at the new twigs), the grower tried to convince me that they need to grow to 15 gal size before the color intensifies. I think it's B.S. as the young twigs should have the brightest color, but I don't have experience growing one from 5 gal. Comments?

Positive MeganAmber On Apr 10, 2011, MeganAmber from Conway, AR wrote:

I am very happy with my Coral Bark Japanese Maple. It is growing very well. This is my second year having it and I love it!

Positive NWSeattleite On Jan 28, 2011, NWSeattleite from Seattle
United States wrote:

Planted a small (~4.5 ft tall) one of these 5 years ago in partial shade (afternoon sun only) in recently (and deeply) tilled earth just north of Seattle. It exploded and has more than doubled in size. It has hit its '10 year size' in half the time. Love this tree. The bark is beautiful and the tree is very lush (gets plenty of water).

Positive Pdewhitt On Nov 15, 2010, Pdewhitt from San Jose, CA wrote:

I just saw a whole lot of these growing in the Getty Museum Gardens in Los Angeles. They were bare of leaves, shrubby vase-shaped and spectacularly colored - red, orange and yellow. The garden is in full sun, but is on a mountaintop and gets ocean breezes, so that probably moderates the heat. I'd like to try them in San Jose. Any input?

Add on: Just realized they were probably not maples but were a variety of dogwoods. Oh well, they were gorgeous. Could they grow in Northern California?

Positive steinbeck On Nov 6, 2010, steinbeck from Dallas, TX wrote:

I've had a small (originally 4' tall) Bloodgood Japanese Maple for two years here in Dallas and it has done very well even after a very hard freeze last winter and a very hot summer in the 100's many weeks in the summer. It is on the North of the house in mostly dappled shade during the summer.

Negative Dodgeum On Aug 30, 2010, Dodgeum from Waxahachie, TX wrote:

I bought this plant from a nursery and they planted the first
in May 2009. It died. They replaced it in May 2010 and now
the leaves are completely dried up and the coral bark is turning dark gray/black. I think the heat is to intense in the summer time in Texas for these plants to survive. Possibly if they were put out in a more shaded area the chances of survival would be better.

Positive jeffhaines On Apr 17, 2010, jeffhaines from Raleigh, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

We have had good luck with our coral bark in North Carolina. It started out in Winston-Salem, and we moved it with us to Raleigh. It moved well and will soon be in its third year in its new spot. We have good bark color in the winter. We have it planted in a partly shady to shady woodsy area.

Positive urbantransplant On Jan 1, 2010, urbantransplant from Marshall, VA wrote:

This tree has done well since I planted it in full sun but mostly dry soil. It had grown to about 4 1/2 ft tall when a bear passing through my yard (looking for my birdfeeders) he broke it clean off at the base. I saw the tree laying there in the morning and the next day it was completely gone despite a search of my property. Was there something about this particular tree that attracted the bear? I'd like to replace it.

Positive wha On Oct 22, 2009, wha from Pepperell, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

Sango-kaku gets a bad rap at times. I have two of these trees and both are winners here.

Negative turnesu On Sep 24, 2009, turnesu from Bixby, OK wrote:

I live in Oklahoma. I planted a coral bark Japanese maple last fall. It was beautiful. It never lost its leaves. This spring its golden leaves were still on it. This summer the leaves started to turn brown and curl up. the existing branches with leaves never grew. The new growth is looking like weeds. I read an article that talked about a disease caused by the bacterium Xylella Fastidiosa, which clogs the plant's water-conducting tissues. It is spread by spittlebugs, leafhoppers and treehoppers. The article said there was no cure for it. I do not want to just chop it down. Please help.

Positive dakotadad On Sep 7, 2009, dakotadad from Plymouth, MA wrote:

Three years ago the 4 foot Coral Bark Maple caught our eye since everything looks so dead in the winter and the red bark brightened the garden. Here, adjacent to Cape Cod, it is growing magnificantly, sometimes too fast as a vase shaped 8 foot plus shrub with three main trunks and a multitude of arched pendulous branches.We like this tree full and unpruned to shade the A/C. Planted without any stakes in peat moss, cricket manure, loam, sand and super phosphate, with four inches of cedar mulch, in 5 hours of full sun the tree responded well. Winter die back of current season new growth is modest.. Today was the first signs of autumn with the beginning of its yellow leaves. Maples, including this, one require weekly deep watering and I avoid sprinklers which encourage surface rooting. Also the last watering is done BEFORE the ground freezes solid. The roots will continue growing during most of the winter and I freeze al my plants wet.

Positive turektaylor On Jun 5, 2009, turektaylor from Elizabeth City, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

here in NE NC, mine is only if full sun in the AM, then dappled shade the rest of the day. very acid-y soil from the pines and large maples overhead. i too, trim unruly branches on top and continue to remove all lower branches to 4'. it creates the nice shaped 'canopy top' that makes them so appealing.

Negative blumburg On Apr 25, 2009, blumburg from powell, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

Planted mine last spring and the leaves scorched a little in full sun in Powell Ohio in the summer despite lots of watering. The coral bark was beautiful all winter. Now there are only a few leaves at the base of the tree and the bark has turned mottled grey brown. I'm guessing it froze, but maybe some disease?

Negative catcollins On Jan 11, 2009, catcollins from West Friendship, MD (Zone 6b) wrote:

This is a really beautiful tree, but the jury is out on whether it is good for this area. We had two. One died in its second year for no apparent reason despite being in a sheltered position with full sun until 2pm. I suspect that it caught some type of blight - died from the bottom up. The other has been doing okay for 3 years now. Some winter dieback but this one is fully exposed to winter winds, full sun. It does tend to shoot out in strange directions and needs to be trimmed to shape. Beautiful bright foliage, excellent winter bark. Other types seem to be much more reliable and just as pretty.

Positive maplenut On Oct 27, 2008, maplenut from Lacey, WA wrote:

Sango kaku is a very 'twiggy' vase-shaped upright japanese maple which grows quite tall but in the right place and if you were lucky enough to buy one with an outstanding red bark, can be quite a centerpiece. I personally do not like the 'twiggy' look so I remove a lot of the inner twigs and artistically shape my coral bark the way I want it to look. I also have it in a place where pieces of it hang into view in my diningroom window as you sit and eat. I posted a photo of mine so people could see it the way it can look if you personally also don't like the 'twiggy' look. This one seems to be a fast grower and available everywhere--it is not expensive. Buy an inexpensive junior-sized (not infant) one at your local hardware store that is well shaped and had the most RED to its bark.

Positive oscarkat01 On Mar 21, 2008, oscarkat01 from Rochester, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have had great luck with this plant. I have one in a partial shade location. The other is in full sun with a western exposure. There is a tiny bit of tip die back in the winter here. I never get leaf scorch even in full sun.

Negative Davidsan On May 2, 2007, Davidsan from Springfield, IL (Zone 6a) wrote:

I know it's a great tree perfect can't go wrong BLA BLA BLA ...My personal experience is it is a piece of JUNK for this area ...maybe in Jm friendly areas but not here ...burns in summer dies back in winter ...DON'T waist your time. I find all the coral bark Jm's hard to grow in northern areas my Japanese sunrise didn't make it either ..but I will say and say it LOUD and CLEAR that the Japanese sunrise is so FAR superior in every respect to the sango it is a no brainner ...I cant recomend it for my area cause of my experience but if you live in a more JM friendly area buy it before that stickin stupid insipid Sango!!! David

Neutral jollie_hanna On Apr 15, 2007, jollie_hanna from Monmouth, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:

My mother has owned 2 of these in Willamina. The tree does really well until the deer find it. :( They have been absolutely beautiful in the winter with their bright colored bark.

Positive otis On Jan 28, 2007, otis from Morrison, TN wrote:

This cultivar of Japanese maple 'Sango-kaku has very good coloration of the bark through the winter. In my area it has preformed very well. I propagate 'Sango-kaku from softwood cuttings.

Positive amur On Mar 1, 2004, amur wrote:

I have planted my Sango Kaku about 10 years ago, it is about 10 feet tall and looks great.

Positive twilli346 On Sep 29, 2003, twilli346 wrote:

It grows in acid or alkaline soils but colors better on acid soil.

Positive sgmdoc On Sep 11, 2003, sgmdoc from Tuscaloosa, AL wrote:

I purchased my Coral Bark from a Japanese nursery in Washington then flew back to Tuscaloosa, Alabama (U.S.) with it and six other plants. It has been growing in Tuscaloosa since 1995. Today as I was having some pine trees removed they dropped a 40 year old pine on my Coral Bark.

Positive jkom51 On Nov 21, 2002, jkom51 from Oakland, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

There are newer varieties of Coral Bark Japanese Maples, but this is still one of the best. Often available at a good price in local nurseries, the leaves turn clear yellow in fall; cold weather turns the bark and branches bright red. Color is not quite so vivid on older wood as tree ages, but it remains a striking specimen, particularly when backlit. New leaves are a bright clear green with red margins. This is a vigorous, upright tree. Also known as 'Senkaki'.

Like most Japanese Maples, does need a partial shade location. Our hot dry California summer weather tends to crisp the leaf edges; mine has a late afternoon sun exposure and has suffered some damage.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Mentone, Alabama
Springville, Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Benton, Arkansas
Conway, Arkansas
Bakersfield, California
Chico, California
El Cerrito, California
Garberville, California
Newcastle, California
Oakland, California (2 reports)
Oakley, California
San Leandro, California
Santa Rosa, California
Stockton, California
Calhoun, Georgia
Cumming, Georgia
Smyrna, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Indianapolis, Indiana
Georgetown, Kentucky
Latonia, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Lafayette, Louisiana
Millersville, Maryland
Pepperell, Massachusetts
Plymouth, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Novi, Michigan
Marion, Mississippi
Tupelo, Mississippi
Madison, Missouri
Reno, Nevada
Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey
Ringwood, New Jersey
Rumson, New Jersey
Toms River, New Jersey
Rochester, New York
Woodstock, New York
Charlotte, North Carolina (2 reports)
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Hendersonville, North Carolina
Matthews, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina (2 reports)
Euclid, Ohio
Gates Mills, Ohio
Mansfield, Ohio
Bixby, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Beaverton, Oregon
Monmouth, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Media, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Columbia, South Carolina
Inman, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina
Walhalla, South Carolina
Arlington, Tennessee
Morrison, Tennessee
Dallas, Texas (2 reports)
Rockwall, Texas
Santaquin, Utah
Hot Springs, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia
Newport News, Virginia
Newsoms, Virginia
Anacortes, Washington
Battle Ground, Washington
Black Diamond, Washington
Concrete, Washington (2 reports)
Edmonds, Washington
La Conner, Washington
Lacey, Washington
Langley, Washington
Puyallup, Washington
Renton, Washington
Seattle, Washington (3 reports)
Green Bay, Wisconsin

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