Trident Maple Bonsai Trees

Trident Maple Bonsai Tree
  • Well known for the brilliant colors of its foliage in autumn (drop). The bark is a dappled pale brown and exfoliates with age revealing a grey orange and brown colour. The tiny leaves (which resist scorching during drought) have 3 short lobes close together – hence the name Tri-dent. The spring flowers are inconspicuous and also the new growth is often bronze to purple. Deciduous – Keep outside. Available 1 2 months annually. Will not have any foliage during wintertime.

What is Trident Maple Bonsai & Care Guide

Learn all about Trident Maple Bonsai Trees and how to take care of them.
Scientific/Botanical NameAcer buergerianum
DescriptionThe three-lobed leaf distinguishes this ornamental tree. It has a thick-set trunk, and the upper back peels off easily to expose an under-bark that is pale orange in color.
PositionTrident maples grow best in a temperate climate, and USDA planting zone 5 is its ideal growing location. Mature trees can tolerate short periods of frigid conditions. However, the roots should be given frost protection because they grow rapidly and are vulnerable to frost damage.
WateringThe soil should be kept evenly-moist soil but well-drained. The tree will need daily watering between spring and fall, but watering should be reduced over the winter.
FeedingIn spring and summer, the tree should be fed monthly with a balanced fertilizer. No fertilization is required over the winter months.
Leaf and Branch PruningAs the plant grows, new shoots should be trimmed back to only two sets of leaves on trees that are young. On older trees, new shoots should be trimmed back to only one set of leaves. In the summer, all weak branches should be cut back by one-third to encourage branch strengthening and more vigorous growth. The roots are tolerant of heavy pruning.
Re-potting & Growing MediumYoung trees should be re-potted every spring before the buds unfold. Older trees are to be re-potted every two years. The best soil to use is Japanese akadama clay.
WiringWiring is best carried out on young growth, and the wire should be removed within the same season in which it was applied to the growth.
NotesThe tree roots grow at a rapid pace, and this makes it ideal for the root-over-rock style. The tree is nevertheless amenable to many other styles. Powdery mildew is a potential problem in areas with inadequate air circulation.

The scientific name for the Trident Maple bonsai is Acer buergerianum. The Trident Maple is not only ideal for bonsai, but it is also used throughout the world as a tree that is planted along sidewalks and in city parks. This tree is hardy and can withstand rough conditions, such as dry soil, heavy pruning, and air pollution. These traits also make it an ideal candidate for bonsai culture.

This bonsai tree originated in Taiwan and the eastern portion of China. The natural version of this tree found in the wild is a medium sized tree. This deciduous tree will range anywhere in size from 15 feet to 60 feet tall. Many centuries ago the Trident Maple bonsai was introduced into the Japanese population, where it has been solely used for bonsai since this introduction. The trident maple is also known as the Chinese Maple bonsai tree, especially by the Japanese. The Trident Maple had its debut in North American and European nurseries in 1896. This tree is a hardy tree that thrives in zone 5, which means that it is ideal for gardens and parks in temperate climates.


The acer buergerianum is a tree with 3-lobed leaves. This differs from the 5 and 7 lobed leaves that its familial relative, acer palmatum, have. The leaves of the Trident Maple Bonsai turn various shades of orange and red in the fall. The remainders of the year the leaves are dark green, and have a bluish green under side. The tree buds are a dark brown, which appear in early spring. The tree bark is a buff color that flakes off easily. Under the buff bark a pale orange under bark exists. As the tree matures, the bark darkens in color. The Trident Maple Bonsai boasts a thick trunk, the thickest of all bonsai species trees. It is a type of maple that grows extremely quickly and has the ability to be constructed.

The trident maple bonsai can be grown from seed; however, it is more typical to start a tree from a thick trunk cutting. The cuttings require humidity and bottom heat to successfully root and grow.


The Trident Maple Bonsai is available at most nurseries and landscape nurseries located in zone 5, which is the temperate zone region. This particular bonsai tree is also available through some larger bonsai nurseries that specialize in selling and shipping bonsai trees in general.

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After purchasing the Trident Maple, the first step in care is to plant it in a pot or in the ground. Following the planting, grow and re-cut or chop the tree until the desired thickness of wood, in the trunk region, is achieved. This is typically a fairly quick process especially when the tree is provided with appropriate soil, nutrients, and adequate water. When chopping the Trident Maple trunk, it is essential to leave a small amount of leaves present. This enables the tree to be able to reestablish itself.

Soil & Potting

Trident Maple trees are a hardy tree that can flourish in a wide array of soils, including clay, sand, and loam. These trees prefer to have a free draining soil with approximately 40 percent organic matter when used as a bonsai tree. The organic matter is required due to this bonsai being a broadleaf tree. The aggregate addition to the soil for this tree can include Akadama, sand that has coarse grains, decomposed granite, pumice, turface, or diatomite.

The Trident Maple tree can handle significant root pruning as long as it is done at the appropriate time. The root pruning must be done prior to leaf buds swelling on the tree, typically early spring. This is also the ideal time to repot the tree. The tree can be repotted later in the spring after leaves are on the tree, but it will hinder the growth of the bonsai tree for the rest of the growing season.

The Japanese tradition for potting Trident Maple Bonsai trees is customarily to place them in glazed pots. The most common glazed pot used is cream in color. This accentuates the leaves, especially in the fall when they display shades of red and orange.


Trident Maples do not like extensive exposure to sun. They are able to handle effect from the sun as long as they have an adequate reservoir of moisture as well as nutrient rich soil. If the Trident Maple is kept in direct sunlight it needs to be in a deep pot to maintain appropriate reserves. Providing that the bonsai tree is planted in the appropriate soil, with good drainage, it should receive water daily during warm weather, and every other day when the weather is cooler.

Pruning & Shaping

Trident Maples are a strong tree, which does not seem to have any issues with pruning. Cutting large branches from this tree will result in a profusion of growth located at the site where the cut was made. Wiring this particular type of bonsai tree is challenging, especially if the wood is older. Older wood tends to be stiff, which will result in an internal fracture within the tree. This fracture will heal, but as a result of the fracture an ugly swelling will be located at the injury site. Due to this reason, it is only recommended to wire young growth on this particular type of bonsai and to ensure that the wire is removed as soon as the growth sets. With the Trident Maple tree, and its quick and hardy growing, the wire will typically need to be removed the same season that it is applied.

Pests & Diseases

Trident Maples are a hardy species that are extremely disease resistant. This particular tree’s main issues consist of aphids on new growths and root rot. Root rot can be all together avoided by using the appropriate soil, which is a free draining soil and ensuring that the tree is never waterlogged.


The Trident Maple tree is a great beginner bonsai tree. It is very hardy with minimal soil requirement and only needs pruning to achieve the desired shape. It does not require more extensive bonsai techniques, such as wiring. Also, its fast growth rate will keep the novice interested in the tree, preventing loss of patience.