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The Trident Maple

The Trident maple, native to China and Japan, is a popular broadleaf deciduous tree for bonsai enthusiasts, alongside the Acer palmatum (Japanese maple). In nature, it can grow up to 20m tall, and its characteristic pointed leaf lobes have earned it its popular name.


PIc Bonsaimary

As a bonsai subject, the Trident maple is one of the most vigorous temperate broadleaf deciduous species, and its strength comes from its vascular system. You can heavily prune its roots and branches without harming the tree.

Some of the reasons why Trident maple bonsai is so popular are its ability to become thick and fluid in its movements, its flaking creamy bark that creates interesting patterns, and its tight, tiny three-pointed leaves that give wonderful interest in the spring and turn incredible colours of yellow, orange, and red in the fall.

This species has strong root growth, is uncomplicated when repotting, and tolerates pruning very well. It lends itself to stone plantings well, as it grows with a particular root over rock composition that creates interesting relationships and patterns.


Pic Bonsai Studio

Fertilization of Trident maple bonsai starts in the spring with the first leaf shoots. You can carry out fertilization every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer (follow the instructions on the package) or every 4-6 weeks with a solid organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizers are slowly released and supply the bonsai tree gently.

Because of the strong roots and the generally large number of leaves, the Trident maple needs plenty of water in midsummer and should also be checked regularly for water requirements in winter. When repotting, make sure that the soil (bonsai mix) is well-drained to avoid waterlogging.

Trident maple likes a sunny spot, but in midsummer, it may need a little protection from extreme sunlight around noon as the bonsai pots can get very hot in the sun. The Trident maple is hardy and can be overwintered well outside in most parts of South Africa, but it should not be overwintered too warm.

pictures from Nebari Bonsai


When repotting, well-drained bonsai soil can be used, and Japanese Akadama is a good choice. Mycorrhiza does not need to be added to the earth.

Since the Trident maple has vigorous root growth, it has to be repotted a little more often. Usually, the pot is completely filled with roots after 2-3 years. A strong root cut should be made during repotting, and often 30-50% of the roots can be removed.

Trident maple bonsai is easy to care for and is a good bonsai for beginners. With proper care, it is little affected by pests and fungal infection can be treated with the usual means against rust fungi.


Pic MN Bonsai Network

Wiring takes place in early spring when the branches have already become flexible, or after a defoliation. The best way to unwire a bonsai is to use wire cutters for bonsai. With young trees, you want to get a thicker trunk, stronger branches, and finer branching. To achieve this, let new shoots grow to 8-10 leaf pairs and then cut back to 1-2 leaf pairs. Leaves that are too large can also be cut off. Pinching the tips of the shoots is a good technique to get a finer branching.

With healthy trees, a total leaf cut (defoliation) can also be performed every two years. This causes smaller leaves and a stronger autumn colour. A leaf cut should not be done too often.

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