Description & Overview

‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ is a unique, dwarf, and compact cultivar of the Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum. This plant is known for its attractive, highly segmented green bark with tiny internodes. The foliage grows closely together and overlaps one another like shingles on a roof, producing a dense leaf cover on a sculptural branch structure. Its medium green foliage transitions into a brilliant firey red and burgundy for a dramatic display in fall.

Core Characteristics

Category: Tree

Wisconsin Native: No - Introduced

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 5

Mature Height: 3-5 feet

Mature Spread: 3-5 feet

Growth Rate: Slow

Growth Form: Compact. Upright. Multi-branched.

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Prefers a cool site with moist, organically rich, and well-drained soil.

Flower: Inconspicuous. Red.

Bloom Period: Spring Flowers appear as leaves expand

Foliage: Green

Fall Color: Orange, red to dark red.

Urban Approved: No

Fruit Notes: Small, winged samara. Green to bright red in color.

Suggested Uses

The ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ Japanese Maple is well suited as a small-statured, suave-looking landscape specimen, perfect for small planting locations, fairy gardens, and Asiatic landscapes. Many growers of ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ have had success keeping them in containers, and it’s often used for bonsai. Although, it should be known that Wisconsin winters make this quite challenging, and we do not recommend keeping the plant in containers.

Mikawa Yatsubusa' is a unique, dwarf, and compact cultivar of the Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum. This plant is known for its attractive, highly segmen…
Mikawa Yatsubusa' is a unique, dwarf, and compact cultivar of the Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum. This plant is known for its attractive, highly segmen…

Wildlife Value

‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ produces tiny red flowers. These blossoms may be minuscule and ornamentally insignificant, yet they still attract pollinators. Because Japanese Maples are not native to the country, they do not provide a significant ecological benefit.

The Imperial moth (Eacles imperialis) prefers native maples; however, the caterpillar of this moth has been observed to occasionally feed on the foliage of non-native maples such as this one.

It should be noted that the feeding of this moth should never warrant control.

Maintenance Tips

Grow your ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ Japanese Maple in a partially-shaded location, ideally with protection from the hot midday/afternoon sun. The delicate foliage is prone to leaf scorch, which can occur if planted in too sunny of a location, in times of drought or if you’re underwatering. This plant wants to be kept in a cooler location with organically rich, well-draining soil.
You’ll want to choose a planting location that receives protection from western sweeping winter winds, which can be a major killer of Japanese Maples in Wisconsin. The best locations are those on the eastern sides of things like evergreen hedges or buildings, which provide permanent protection. In general, Japanese maples are best grown on the south to southeast side of your home.

This is a low-maintenance tree that requires little to no pruning. If you do need to prune, fall to early winter is the best time to do so as it may “bleed” sap if pruned in late spring or in the growing season. Pruning during the growing season also opens the door for any unwanted pests or diseases.

Check out Growing Japanese Maples in Wisconsin for more information on Japanese maples and how to grow them successfully in colder climates.

Mikawa Yatsubusa' is a unique, dwarf, and compact cultivar of the Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum. This plant is known for its attractive, highly segmen…

Pests/Problems

When growing this maple, your primary concern is planting it in an ideal location where it receives enough sunlight, but not too much, and protection from cold winter winds. You may encounter leaf-feeding insects such as aphids or leafminers that cause minor damage, but they are not common pests on Japanese maples.

There are minimal insect and disease issues that affect this plant’s mortality. The main focus should be keeping your plant happy and healthy, which all starts with where you decide to plant it.

Leaf Lore

Acer palmatum has a long history, and this particular maple species has been bred, selected, and propagated for over 400 years by the Japanese. Unusual forms of this tree have been collected and treasured for many centuries, and the art of growing bonsai dates back thousands of years. This incredible history has resulted in many different cultivars, which can vary in form, habit, bark, leaf shape, and color. ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ originated as a wild tree found in the Tokai region of Japan. This area used to be part of an older province called Mikawa, the origin of this variety’s name. Yatsu busa means ‘eight tufts,’ which is in reference to the dense, tufted branches that help distinguish this variety.

‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ is a unique tree that was found in the 1970s and first grown in America by the Japanese Maple expert J.D. Vertrees, an entomologist, nurseryman, and educator. This variety is slow-growing and difficult to reproduce, making availability low and often only at specialty nurseries. Luckily, this cultivar can occasionally be found here at Johnsons Nursery. The stock never lasts long.

The International Maple Society, founded in the UK in 1990, has divided the broad category of Japanese maples into 17 groups. ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ is in the Crispum group, whose members feature wrinkled or crinkled leaves. Most of the trees in this group stay quite small, with only a few other members growing to reach 10 feet. Another popular cultivar in this group is ‘Shishigashira’ or ‘Lion’s Head’ in English.

 

Companion Plants

Siting a single ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ Japanese Maple in a prominent location will attract attention from every part of the landscape. While phenomenal looking on their own, ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ can look more charming when planted with a few companion plants. Ground-covering or low-growing plants such as Dwarf Japanese Garden Juniper, Bunchberry, or Wild Ginger could complement their small stature.

Remember that your Japanese Maple will want some protection from the sun. We recommend using large shade trees nearby to help provide ideal light conditions, including; Bur Oak, Swamp White Oak, Kentucky Coffeetree, American Beech, and Katsura.

Mikawa Yatsubusa' is a unique, dwarf, and compact cultivar of the Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum. This plant is known for its attractive, highly segmen…
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Written by Miles Minter