Dwarf Trident Maple ‘Miyasama yatsuba’

Trident maple itself is a small to medium-sized tree native to eastern Asia. You don’t see it very often this far south, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to grow it. Better yet, here’s a dwarf cultivar that gives you all the charm in much less space.

This one is called ‘Miyasama yatsuba.’ Translating its name, ‘Miyasama’ means ‘prince’ and ‘yatsuba’ means ‘dwarf.’ Put them together and you get a ‘dwarf prince’ of a plant. It’s a cultivar that originated in Japan prior to 1900, and it’s noted for its slow rate of growth.

Some of the salmon-red new growth is still visible above the leathery green summer three-lobed foliage.

New growth in the spring is salmon-to-red-colored that fade to green with a thickened, leathery texture by the middle of summer. The three-lobed leaves are clustered densely along the stems giving the tree a tight and dense habit. In fall the leaves turn golden yellow infused with red-orange to purple and its fall color typically lasts two weeks longer than fall color of the other Japanese maples across Texas.

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Let’s look at the facts…
Common name: dwarf trident maple (name refers to the trident in classical mythology, a comparison to the three pointed lobes of the leaves)

Cultivar’s scientific name: Acer buergerianum ‘Miyasama yatsuba’

Family: Sapindaceae

Native home: Species is native to China, Korea and Japan

Cold tolerance: U.S.D.A. Plant Hardiness Zones 5-9, so cold will not be a factor in any part of Texas

It’s difficult to find a photo of a mature specimen. This one from the Oregon State University website gives an indication of the compactness of this lovely little cultivar. Click image for larger view.

Mature size: of the species 20 to 30 ft. tall, but of this dwarf 5 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide

Soil preference: slightly acidic (6.0), but tolerant of neutral to slightly alkaline soils (6.5-8.0), moist, but well-draining

Landscape uses: small gardens, containers, bonsai

My relatively new addition to our landscape. See note below for what my expectations are.

Note: I planted my ‘Miyasama yatsuba’ in a raised bed on the southeast side of the house outside the windows of two different rooms so that we can enjoy it from both parts of our house. It rises up from behind a row of dwarf yaupons so that it will create a nice contrast in texture and color to the hollies. One could easily underplant this tree with a groundcover such as mondograss or ajuga. Otherwise, just use an organic mulch, but be sure to pull the mulch away from the trunk of the tree.

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Additional Note: Most sources currently show this plant to be either “Sold Out” or “Unavailable.” I asked Scott Hubble at Metro Maples (https://www.metromaples.com) about their availability. He said, “I wouldn’t expect ‘Miyasama yatsubusa’ to be too difficult to find. We are currently sold out of this cultivar but will have a nice group of them available in several sizes this fall.”

Posted by Steve Huddleston
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