Interesting things you may not know about maples – especially Japanese maples

1. The seeds of a Japanese maple are called samaras

These interesting shaped seeds fly like a helicopter to the ground when they fall off in late spring.


2. In 1898 only 39 varieties of Japanese maples were available

Japanese Maple varieties are not all new to the US... In 1898 even there were 39 varieties of Japanese Maples available through Yokohama Nursery


3. Acer palmatum and Acer shirasawanum can generally be distinguished by the direction their samaras are held

Shirasawanum are generally held upright and palmatum are generally downward hanging.


4. Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa' is a favorite among Japanese maple collectors

This variety has been around for a while but is still a favorite among all Japanese maple lovers. This is one of the best green varieties that is prized for its compact growth habit which gives it a natural bonsai appearance.


5. Acer circinatum and Acer shirasawanum can be grafted onto Acer palmatum rootstock

Acer circinatum (Vine maple) is native to western North America but is so closely related to the Japanese maple that it too can be grafted onto Acer palmatum rootstock.


6. Some species of maples are well suited for cooler climates.

Shirasawanum and Japonicum maples are typically a little hardier than palmatum maples.

If you are on the fence about what species of maple to grow in your area, Acer shirasawanum or Acer japonicum might perform better than Acer palmatum.


7. Unique landscape applications

For instance, weeping (pendulous) varieties can be trained to weep over walls or other garden features creating a waterfall effect. Some pendulous varieties that are suited to this are: Ryu sei Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Ryu sei')[pictured], Orangeola Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Orangeola'), Baldsmith Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Baldsmith'). For more ideas about unique uses for maples in your landscape, contact us and we will provide suggestions.


8. Japanese maples can develop witch's brooms also! These genetic mutations are not exclusive to conifers.

Even more uncommon than brooms on conifers, maple brooms are often highly unique and unstable. This leads to difficulty in propagating and introducing a new variety found as a broom. One notable maple variety that was successfully introduced from a witch's broom is Shaina Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Shaina'). The original broom was found on the common variety 'Bloodgood'. Want to learn about witch's brooms? Read our witch's broom blog post here.


9. Many Japanese maple varieties that have been available in the U.S. for over 100 years are still popular!


12. Japanese maples are known for their fall color but a few are extraordinary


Notable Japanese maple varieties


Overall hardiest maple

The Trompenburg Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Trompenburg') is one of the overall hardiest and toughest maples we offer. We have had customers from the midwest and other areas who generally do not have luck with maples grow 'Trompenburg' with great success.

Finest foliage

Fairy Hair Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Fairy Hair') is a stunning maple with incredibly thin foliage.

Miniature Japanese maple

Some Japanese maples are slower growing than others but this one is tiny.

acer-palmatum-sir-happy-2_resized

Unique colors

Most unique variegation

The Radiant Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Radiant') is a recent addition to our selection and features stunning pink and white variegation that looks like it was carefully painted on by hand.

Varieties with reticulated leaves

Reticulated leaves show prominent veins running through the structure of the foliage. This effect is displayed in many varieties, some of our favorites are:

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Snapshot of Spring 2016

It's been pretty insane around the nursery, but here's a glimpse into what our spring is looking like.

Acer campestre 'Carnival'


Acer palmatum 'Coral Magic'


Acer palmatum 'Goshiki kotohime'


Acer palmatum 'Orange Dream'


Acer palmatum 'Radiant'


Acer palmatum 'Amagi shigure'


Acer palmatum 'Fairy Hair'


Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa'


Acer palmatum 'Peaches and Cream'


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Featured Fall Maples Part 2

Happy November, the season of fall colors! This is the last of our blog posts featuring Japanese maples. We will transition to some excellent plant pairings in our next series. But while autumn is here, let’s enjoy the fleeting colors before the leaves fall from the trees.

Acer palmatum 'Shigitatsu Sawa'
Acer palmatum ‘Shigitatsu Sawa’

Acer palmatum ‘Shigitatsu sawa’ is one of the maples we showcased during our spring feature of our blog post. Spring’s bright yellow coloration changes to more greenish in summer before fall color displays of burgundy-red and purple. This unique maple has such a remarkable color change throughout the seasons that make it incredibly unique.

Acer palmatum 'Ariadne'
Acer palmatum ‘Ariadne’

Acer palmatum 'Ariadne'
Acer palmatum ‘Ariadne’

Acer palmatum ‘Ariadne’ is a maple that deserves to be more widely produced. Its bright orange color in spring later becomes more green in summer, but by fall, a brilliant orange-red color returns, somewhat highlighted by the pattern of the leaf veins and the reticulation. The change for fall is gradual, with some leaves remaining green while others are bright red, quite a unique characteristic.

Acer palmatum 'Peaches and Cream'
Acer palmatum ‘Peaches and Cream’

Acer palmatum 'Peaches and Cream'
Acer palmatum ‘Peaches and Cream’

Another maple we previously discussed in our spring feature blog posts is Acer palmatum ‘Peaches and Cream’. As mentioned before, this is one of our favorite maples for year-round color. Orange and white spring color later transform to a host of green, yellow, orange, and red. We still have a limited supply available in the 1-gallon size.

Acer palmatum 'Manyo No Sato'
Acer palmatum ‘Manyo No Sato’

Acer palmatum 'Manyo No Sato'
Acer palmatum ‘Manyo No Sato’

Acer palmatum ‘Manyo no sato’ is a unique maple with strange leaf formation and variegation, also one which we mentioned during the spring feature. After the darker tones of spring and summer, fall color brings on a combination of pink, orange, and green. Its remarkable contrasting fall color makes this compact tree a real winner in any landscape.

Acer palmatum 'Ogon Sarasa'
Acer palmatum ‘Ogon Sarasa’

Acer palmatum 'Ogon Sarasa'
Acer palmatum ‘Ogon Sarasa’

While ‘Manyo no sato’ has an interesting color combination year-round, other varieties such as ‘Ogon sarasa’ are most notable for their fiery fall display. Burgundy-red leaves take on a host of orange, yellow, and crimson red in autumn. This outstanding maple is available only in the larger container size that makes for a substantial landscape tree.

Acer palmatum 'Kuro Hime'
Acer palmatum ‘Kuro Hime’

Acer palmatum 'Kuro Hime'
Acer palmatum ‘Kuro Hime’

Another one of those varieties which looks good in all seasons is Acer palmatum ‘Kuro hime’. Petite, dark green leaves brighten to a magnificent orange-red color in fall. The globose habit of this amazing maple makes it look like a glowing ball in mid-fall. Since this is one of our favorites, we offer it in a wide array of sizes, from small grafts to our large, 10-gallon stock plants.

Acer palmatum 'Iro Iro'
Acer palmatum ‘Iro Iro’

Acer palmatum ‘Iro iro’ is another variety with small leaves, but it is faster-growing and more upright than ‘Kuro Hime’. In the spring feature blog posts, we featured this variety with its cream-colored variegation on leaf margins in spring and summer. In fall, the variegation turns hot pink, giving this tree vibrantly-striped foliage! ‘Alpenweiss’ is a variety very similar to ‘Iro iro’ but the variegation is not as stable; that is why we prefer to produce ‘Iro iro’.

Acer japonicum 'Taki No Gawa'
Acer japonicum ‘Taki No Gawa’

Acer japonicum 'Taki No Gawa'
Acer japonicum ‘Taki No Gawa’

By contrast to the last two small-leaf varieties, Acer japonicum ‘Taki no gawa’ has perhaps the largest leaves of any maple we have! Some leaves are up to 4” across, giving the various colors even more presence on this upright tree. A mix of orange, yellow, red, and green can be seen on these massive leaves!

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Featured Fall Maples Part 1

As promised in our last blog post, we are now transitioning to the beautiful fall colors. We left off with a photo of Acer palmatum ‘Hogyoku’, which has a traditional dark-green color in summer but one of the most outstanding fall color displays of any maple!

Acer palmatum 'Hogyoku'
Acer palmatum ‘Hogyoku’
Acer shirasawanum 'Red Dawn'
Acer shirasawanum ‘Red Dawn’

While most maples are regarded for having stunning leaf color in the fall, Acer shirasawanum ‘Red
Dawn’ has colorful samaras! By the end of summer, leaves have faded to more of a greenish color but the seeds have matured to a bright scarlet-red.

Eventually, the leaves will turn red again before they fall from the tree, but ‘Red Dawn’ has an additional dimension of color in its remarkable seeds. ‘Red Dawn’ is one of very few Acer shirasawanum varieties that has red leaf color. It is an incredible substitute for the more traditional Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’.

Acer shirasawanum 'Jordan'
Acer shirasawanum ‘Jordan’

Other varieties have outstanding transitional colors from summer to fall. Many maples, when grown in warmer climates, will produce a second flush of growth towards the end of summer. These leaves are sometimes the most colorful and also contrast nicely with the older foliage of the tree.

Acer shirasawanum ‘Jordan’ is one such variety which we discussed in a spring blog post. The growth later in the season features a darker orange color before changing for a mix of orange, yellow, and red later in fall.

Acer shirasawanum 'Moonrise'
Acer shirasawanum ‘Moonrise’

A variety similar to the ‘Autumn Moon’ is ‘Moonrise’. The color is a slightly more intense orange-red with a second push of growth later in the summer that is even more vibrant. This relatively-new variety is currently only available in the BP-1 size, but we hope to get it into production soon. Fall color is a reddish-orange color, giving it an assorted color pallete throughout the seasons.

Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'
Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’

‘Aureum’ is one of those very-popular Acer shirasawanum varieties we discussed in our previous spring blog posts which also has remarkable orange fall coloration. As temperatures become cooler, the areas
that were yellow become more orange while the most sun-exposed areas tend to just turn brown. That is why this variety prefers a shadier location. Again, this variety is available in a wide range of sizes.

Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku'
Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’

Some maple trees are known for their colorful twigs as well. ‘Sango kaku’, commonly called the “coral bark” maple, shows brilliant red bark starting in fall, persisting all the way through winter. Before the
leaves fall from the tree, a glorious contrast occurs, displaying bright yellow leaves combined with the vibrant red twigs. This variety is fairly common and in high demand. We have a few similar varieties available as well, including ‘Winter Flame’, ‘Beni kawa’, and ‘Fjellheim’ (include links for the preceding varieties) which are all a bit slower-growing. The only drawback to these varieties with bright twigs is their tendency for the bark to become scalded in too much sun.

Acer triflorum
Acer triflorum

It is important to note that the leaves of maple trees vary much more than you might think! Acer
triflorum is a maple which we do not commonly produce but have a limited selection of larger
specimen-size trees. What makes this species unique is the fact that each lobe is completely dissected
all the way to the base of the leaf, giving it a leaf that has three leaflets. It is truly unlike any of the
“Japanese maples” we commonly produce. While it is green in the summer, the fall color show is one of
the best with a mix of orange, yellow, and red as the leaves transform for autumn. The slightly
exfoliating bark gives more character to this outstanding tree.

Acer palmatum 'Amber Ghost' Conifer Kingdom
Acer palmatum ‘Amber Ghost’

Acer palmatum ‘Amber Ghost’ has outstanding orange color even in the summer but getting more
intense during fall. Fairly large leaves have subtle leaf veins of a different color. The bright orange color
in fall makes it really stand out among most other maples. ‘Amber Ghost’ is a fairly slow-growing variety
which makes it a suitable addition to most any garden! We have a couple larger ones available, but this is another one we hope to propagate soon!

Acer palmatum 'Ukigumo'
Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’

Finally, let’s revisit the “floating cloud” maple we discussed in the last blog post, Acer palmatum
‘Ukigumo’. As fall approaches, the white portions of each leaf become increasingly pink in color. This
change takes place slowly after the latter days of summer, creating a mottled, pink, white, and green
color combination.

Acer palmatum 'Ukigumo'
Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’

Acer palmatum 'Ukigumo'
Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’
Check back for one more blog post in our series about maples, as the fall color progresses at the
nursery!
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Featured Japanese Maples Part 2

It may seem crazy to be displaying maples in spring color since it is now October, but there were too many stunning varieties to fit in last month’s blog post. In our next blog post, we will acclimate for fall and begin featuring their gorgeous fall colors instead.

Acer palmatum 'Ariadne' buy at Conifer Kingdom
Acer palmatum ‘Ariadne’

Orange is perhaps one of the most unique colors for Japanese maples. As we introduced in last month’s issue, some of the most beautiful maples have a type of variegation called reticulation, where the leaf veins are prominent.

Acer palmatum 'Ariadne'
Acer palmatum ‘Ariadne’

Acer palmatum ‘Ariadne’ has a stunning orange color in spring, later fading to more of a deep green by summer. However, ‘Ariadne’ once more sports the orange color with the onset of cooler temperatures in fall. This variety develops into a broad-canopied upright tree with age, and we currently have many available in the 3-gallon size.

These plants are fairly well-developed so they look substantial in the landscape but they are not too large to ship—the perfect size! This is also one of our free plant offerings for the month of October for orders over $250.

Acer shirasawanum 'Autumn Moon'
Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’

Another variety that sports orange color at least during part of the season is Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’. One can imagine a bright orange harvest moon coming with the onset of fall. That color is what is displayed when new growth emerges on this compact maple tree in spring.

It has a rich, orange-red color, later becoming more yellow with an orange blush. By mid- to late-summer, there is often a second push of growth that is even more vibrant than the first, perhaps because it is in contrast with the older, now lighter-colored leaves.

Acer shirasawanum 'Autumn Moon'
Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’

No matter whether it is spring or fall, ‘Autumn Moon’ has a brilliant coloration! Since this is one of our favorite varieties, we have it available from tiny first-year grafts all the way up to large specimen plants.

Acer shirasawanum 'Autumn Moon'
Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’
Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'
Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’

‘Aureum’ has a summer coloration very similar to that of ‘Autumn Moon’ but the orangey-blush is absent. In spring, leaves emerge a chartreuse color, later turning bright golden-yellow once they have been exposed to the sun for a few weeks, giving this variety its name that stems from the Latin word for gold. In more shade, the color will appear more as a yellow-green, however. This is another great and very popular variety which we offer in sizes from small to large.

Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'
Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’

Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'
Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’
Acer shirasawanum 'Bashful'
Acer shirasawanum ‘Bashful’

While we are on the topic of Acer shirasawanum, there is another uncommon variety which we struggle to keep in stock due to its popularity. This slow-growing variety is called ‘Bashful’.

New growth is very delicate with an apricot orange color as it emerges from rosy-pink buds. In summer, ‘Bashful’ takes on a more greenish color with lighter-colored midribs on the leaves. Fall color becomes a yellow-orange color. It is quite a dwarf maple with a dense form and petite, symmetrical leaves.

Acer shirasawanum 'Bashful'
Acer shirasawanum ‘Bashful’

Acer shirasawanum 'Bashful'
Acer shirasawanum ‘Bashful’
Acer palmatum 'Orange Dream'
Acer palmatum ‘Orange Dream’

Yet another variety with orange foliage and a delightful name is Acer palmatum ‘Orange Dream’. The leaves come out with a stunning yellow color and darker, orange-colored margins.

Summer color bleaches out to a lighter yellow, almost white, color especially when sited in full sun. Shadier locations give the tree more of a yellow-green appearance, so for the best spring and fall colors, a sunny location is ideal.

Acer palmatum 'Orange Dream'
Acer palmatum ‘Orange Dream’
Acer palmatum 'Ruby Star'
Acer palmatum ‘Ruby Star’

A maple with bright red leaves and a dwarf growth habit is a rare combination to find. Acer palmatum ‘Ruby Star’ is a fairly compact variety with wide-lobed leaves that are quite symmetrical, giving the appearance of stars.

Acer palmatum 'Ruby Star'
Acer palmatum ‘Ruby Star’

The newest growth is the most vibrant color, later darkening and having more greenish tones. Fall color is a mix of yellow, orange, and red, giving this tree fabulous color changes throughout the seasons.

As it develops a mature form, it becomes a fairly narrow bushy tree that grows slower than many other varieties. ‘Ruby Star’ is another variety that we offer in a variety of sizes.

Acer palmatum 'Ruby Star'
Acer palmatum ‘Ruby Star’
Acer palmatum 'Trompenburg'
Acer palmatum ‘Trompenburg’

For a totally different leaf structure and darker burgundy color, Acer palmatum ‘Trompenburg’ is a popular option. It is also known for its ability to withstand colder winter temperatures than the majority of Japanese maples.

What distinguishes the leaves of this variety from all other maples we offer is the curled leaf lobes that give the appearance of fingers on a hand. ‘Trompenburg’ is a fairly slender and upright tree that was named for the Trompenburg Arboretum in the Netherlands.

Acer palmatum 'Trompenburg'
Acer palmatum ‘Trompenburg’
Acer palmatum 'Shigitatsu Sawa'
Acer palmatum ‘Shigitatsu Sawa’

Some of the most beautiful maples are those with difficult-to-pronounce Japanese names. One such variety that has stunning light yellow color is ‘Shigitatsu sawa’.

Color contrast between the yellow foliage and bright red flowers in spring is truly a phenomenal contrast. This variety should not be confused with the similarly-named variety, ‘Aka shigitatsu sawa’, which has a much more red tone and slightly larger leaves. This one is somewhat difficult to propagate and we usually only have it available in the smaller BP size.

Acer palmatum 'Shigitatsu Sawa'
Acer palmatum ‘Shigitatsu Sawa’
Acer palmatum 'Ukigumo'
Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’

Another type of variegation we have not yet mentioned in this blog post is the unique splotchy variegation of varieties like ‘Ukigumo’. The Japanese name for this unique maple means “floating cloud” in Japanese, giving nod to its bright whitish color.

Acer palmatum 'Ukigumo'
Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’

When new growth first appears in spring, it is tinged with a pink glow, adding another unique color to this fascinating tree. Developing into a narrow, upright tree, ‘Ukigumo’ has a dense habit, giving a stunning effect especially to larger specimens.

Acer palmatum 'Ukigumo'
Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’
Acer palmatum 'Sagara Nishiki'
Acer palmatum ‘Sagara Nishiki’

‘Sagara nishiki’ is our last variety with a distinctively Japanese name. Spring color emerges as a tapestry of yellow, green, and even pink tones. As the leaves mature into summer, they become predominantly green with only yellow leaf margins.

Acer palmatum 'Sagara Nishiki'
Acer palmatum ‘Sagara Nishiki’

The vast array of colors this variety displays give it the “nishiki” part of its name, which means “brocade” in Japanese. With the onset of fall, the yellow edges become a brighter pink color, making the fall color just as outstanding yet different from the spring color.

Acer palmatum 'Sagara Nishiki'
Acer palmatum ‘Sagara Nishiki’
Acer palmatum 'Hogyoku'
Acer palmatum ‘Hogyoku’

While some varieties do not have outstanding color in the spring and summer, maintaining more of a traditional green color, they have incredibly brilliant fall colors! ‘Hogyoku’ is one such variety, but you will have to wait until next week’s blog to enjoy photos of these maples’ colors in the cooler weeks of fall.

Acer palmatum 'Hogyoku'
Acer palmatum ‘Hogyoku’
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