Name: Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ aka Coral Bark Maple
Type of Plant: Small tree for part-shade, reaching 15 to 20 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-8.
Why I Love/Hate this plant: I love this tree first for its foliage. It’s a light, lime green in the spring, then a pale green all season turning bright yellow in the fall. Secondly, the newest growth of the stems is coral in color, and I mean bright coral, and this intensifies in the winter. When I had one growing in Osterville neighbors would stop in the street and ask me if I had spray-painted the plant! It’s a small tree with year round interest.
A Word to the Wise: Keep in mind that the newest growth is what is most colorful, so don’t cut it back or you’ll be taking off the stems that are most vibrant in color.
The biggest possible drawback of this plant is that the trunks are so upright and packed closely together that these areas can hold water, causing parts of the trunk to rot. I’ve had it happen on two different trees. That said, this tree has enough magic that it’s worth taking the chance that you might lose one of the trunks or branches.