- Acer palmatum, commonly known as red emperor maple, palmate maple, Japanese mapleor smooth Japanese-maple, is a species of woody plant native to Japan, Korea, China, eastern Mongolia, and southeast Russia. Many different cultivars of this maple have been selected and they are grown worldwide for their large variety of attractive forms, leaf shapes, and spectacular colors. This photo was taken at the popular Japanese Garden in Portland Oregon. Being the most photographed tree in the world, this tree is often referred to as the Peter Lik tree. His shot Tree of Zen is known world wide.