Plants: Japanese Maples

January 15, 2012Devon No Comments »

So, I couldn’t think of a New Year’s resolution to add to my others until now. It actually takes care of two birds with one stone. First, I have not been writing in my blog as much as I would like. Second, I need to study-up on my plants for my LARE exams this year. Put them together — I am going to write a blog post every month this year over some of my favorite plants! For this lovely January 2012, I have selected Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum). Japanese Maples are native to Asia and southeast Russia. They are either a deciduous shrub or small tree ranging from 1 foot to around 32 feet in height. There are so many cultivars with unlimited forms, colors, leaf types, and sizes — yet, the red-leaf seem to be the most popular. My top five favorites that I would like to share are:

1) ‘Bloodgood‘ is a small, rounded, deciduous tree which typically grows to 15-20 feet tall and features purplish-red flowers in spring, deep reddish-purple summer foliage, red samaras in late summer to early fall and good crimson-red fall color. As with many maples, the flowers are rather attractive close up, but are not particularly showy from a distance.

2) ‘Aconitifolium‘ is one of the most amazing maples. Its leaves are serrated/lobed almost like a fern. They open green and turns shades of yellow-orange. The images does not do it justice, you need to search online for other images. Leaves turn crimson in fall. It typically grows slowly to 8-10 feet tall. Small reddish flowers appear in spring before the leaves and give way to samaras which ripen in late summer to early fall.

3) ‘Sango-kaku‘ aka Coral Bark. The leaves are generally green that turn brilliant yellow in fall. But this maples is not just coveted for it leaves, but after the leaves drop. In the winter months, the newer trunk/stems turn to a bright coral-red color. This is an upright cultivar that may reach 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide. This tree does have one down side, it is highly susceptible to bacterial blight (Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae), which can be reduced if planted in a site with good air circulation.

4) ‘Burgundy Lace‘ has a height and spread of about 12 feet — and is a slow grower. The multiple trunks are picturesque, grey and show nicely when lit up at night. It has purple-red colored leaves, cascading growth habit, and fine lace-like leaf texture. As with most Japanese Maples, part sun is preferred, but this maple, under hot conditions, leave’s will burn in the sun (best in almost full shade).

5) ‘Seiryu‘ aka Green Lace. In summer, the tree has a light green color and is reminiscent of a lacy curtain. In late autumn, leaves turn to an expectant green, then to a muddy orange and finally a brilliant red, all within 48 hours! Its mature height is around 15 feet tall, with a spread of 12 feet. Try and avoid the “twigginess” of some selections when finding the right tree for your garden.

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