Ukigumo Japanese Maple

Ukigumo Japanese Maple

Ukigumo Japanese maple is a striking specimen to behold in a garden. The name, which fittingly translates to “floating clouds,” reminds me of a Japanese ink landscape painting.

Early Summer Mountains in the Rain

This hanging ink scroll depicts weightless mountains and trees floating among the clouds. The picture reminds me of two separate worlds colliding in a dream.

Ukigumo Japanese maple

When I see the Ukigumo Japanese maple it seems like nature is attempting to copy these beautiful paintings. The small leaves are a mix of light and dark green with a fine mist of white blown over them like ash from a volcano. The clustering leaves flow like drifting clouds around green-gray bark that peeks through the “mist” of branches like distant trees on mountains.

acer palmatum japanese maple

Ukigumo Japanese Maple Leaves

I find it very easy to get lost in poetics with Ukigumo. The tree is quite unusual. In the first year, leaves tend to be larger, and less white. Each year of age brings whiter, and daintier leaves with some puckering and curling. Some growers will find pale tones of pink, and others crisp white, sometimes there’s a hint of soft yellow among the maple’s leaves.

acer palmatum ukigumo

The Ukigumo Japanese maple will grow to about 10–12 feet at maturity, adding about 6 inches each year. It tends to grow vertically and widens at the top. Ukigumo won’t develop a broad spreading canopy, instead, it seems to send out shoots, and then fills in the branches as it ages.

Japanese Maple Ukigumo

While most Acer Palmatums prefer shade, this is one that absolutely must have it to perform. Many growers complain about its lack of white when planting the tree in full sun. I find the older my Ukigumo Japanese maple gets, the whiter the leaves become. So be patient with this tree, and you will be rewarded.