Acer distylum is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 12 metres tall. The bole can be 25cm in diameter[
The tree is sometimes harvested from the wild for its sap, which can be made into a sweet drink.
E. Asia - Japan
Mountains in C. and S. Japan[
]. In temperate deciduous forests a elevations of 700 - 1,600 metres[
Acer distylum is a moderately cold-hardy plant, able to tolerate temperatures down to around -15°c when dormant[
Of easy cultivation, it prefers a good moist well-drained soil[
], preferring a sunny position but tolerating some shade[
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Chlorosis can sometimes develop as a result of iron deficiency when the plants are grown in alkaline soils, but in general maples are not fussy as to soil pH.
The best sap production comes from cold-winter areas with continental climates. The tree trunk is tapped in the early spring, the sap flowing better on warm sunny days following a frost.
Most maples are bad companion plants, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants[
Plants are usuallu monoecious, but hermaphrodite forms occur[
The sap contains a certain amount of sugar and can either be used as a drink, or can be concentrated into a syrup by boiling off the water[
]. The syrup is used as a sweetener on many foods. The concentration of sugar is considerably lower than in the sugar maples (A. saccharum).
We have two reports that the leaves of maple species, when laid in layers between crops such as apples, carrots and potatoes, have a preservative effect[
]. The reports do not name any specific species[
Seed of plants grown in gardens can be relied upon to breed true. It is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it usually germinates in the following spring. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify for 2 - 4 months at 1 - 8°c. It can be slow to germinate. The seed can be harvested 'green' (when it has fully developed but before it has dried and produced any germination inhibitors) and sown immediately. It should germinate in late winter. If the seed is harvested too soon it will produce very weak plants or no plants at all[
]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until they are 20cm or more tall before planting them out in their permanent positions.
Layering, which takes about 12 months, is successful with most species in this genus.
Cuttings of young shoots in early summer . The cuttings should have 2 - 3 pairs of leaves, plus one pair of buds at the base. Remove a very thin slice of bark at the base of the cutting, rooting is improved if a rooting hormone is used. The rooted cuttings must show new growth during the summer before being potted up otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter. This species is quite difficult to grow away well from cuttings.