The trident maple, which is native to China and Japan, is one of the most popular deciduous tree species for bonsai, beside the palmate maple (Acer palmatum). In nature the trident maple can grow up to 65′ (20m) tall and its characteristic leaf shape with three pointed lobes explains its popular name.
The trident maple likes a sunny airy place, but during the hottest summer weeks better protect it from scorching sunlight in the afternoon. In winter don’t expose it to temperatures below 23° F (-5° C). It is a good idea to place the trident maple bonsai in a frost-free greenhouse or cold room for winter protection.
Acer buergerianum is native to eastern China and Korea and was introduced to Japan very early, where its name translates as “China maple”. The species name honours Heinrich Buerger, a 19th century German botanist. In about 1896, it was introduced to Europe and North America, where it was planted in large gardens and parks.
The Chinese maple is a trouble-free species that is tolerant of a wide range of site conditions. It is very adaptable to urban environments and tolerates air pollution, making it a wonderful street tree. It can be trimmed to keep it smaller and is good in confined spaces; making it an excellent choice for smaller gardens; providing welcome shade in summer and allowing the sunlight through in winter. Several interesting cultivars have been developed, making the Chinese maple a popular choice for the art of bonsai, and suitable for many style and sizes; responding well to techniques that create leaf reduction and ramification.