Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Acer palmatum ‘Atrolineare’

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah - June

Common name Japanese maple
Scientific name

Acer palmatum ‘atrolineare’ Thunb.

Family  Sapindaceae

Genus: Acer - from the Latin: acerosus, pointed. Possibly in reference to the tips of the leaf lobes.

Species: palmatum - from the Latin: palma, palm of the hand. In reference to the leaf shape.

Cultivar: ‘Atrolineare’ - from the Latin: atro, black, dark and lineare, in reference to the colour and fine, parallel line of the leaves.

Distribution Found throughout the islands of Japan, has been further divided into a number of subspecies. Plants have long been selected from the wild and bred for form and leaf-colour. This domestic horticulture flourished during the edo era (1603-1867) and continues worldwide today.
Native habitat The species in the wild has a broad altitudinal range (100-1300 m), wide soil ph and diversity of aspect. In cultivation a moist, fertile soil and cool-climate are preferred.
Description Usually described as small to large shrubs, most forms of this maple reach less than 4 metres in 10 years and a few attain 10 m.
Flowering/fruiting Very small flowers form in the spring and the winged fruit, samaras, are shed in the autumn.


Either side of the path from the Visitor Centre deck to the Residence Garden, beds R145 and R146.


Purchased in the early 1980s as cultivar ‘Linearilobum Rubrum’, these two small trees were planted in 1984. They have an upright, vase-shape with weeping branchlets and have now reached the expected mature height of 4 metres.

This narrow-lobed form, with each leaf lobed divided to the base of the leaf, does not occur in the wild. Similar forms are grouped informally as ‘Linearilobum’.

No fewer than 15 synonyms are ascribed to this cultivar and since the early 2000s. The recommended appellation has been ‘Atrolineare’. From spring through to late
summer the mostly five-lobed leaves appear green with a purplish tinge. Late autumn sees a shift to claret tones.

The featured cultivar is one of some 50 cultivars of A. palmatum on display throughout this cool-climate Garden.