Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Maples And Moons

In a shady, isolated corner of the garden, a few years ago I planted an Acer japonicum Aconitifolium; it has been very quiet, to the point of invisiblity, until this fall, when with more maturity, it lit up like a jack o' lantern. There are three species of acer that are thought of as Japanese maples: certainly Acer palmatum is the heavyweight, with hundreds of cultivars, but Acer japonicum and Acer shirasawanum each have a handful of varieties that can be found in commerce. My Acer japonicum Aconitifolium is now about five feet tall, and will reach 8-10 feet tall, and perhaps 8 feet across, when it should become a focal point of the fall garden, with leaves of bright orange-red and yellow. Aconitifolium refers to the fact that its leaves resemble those of the monkshood, aconitus. When I first started trying some Japanese maples in the garden, I was quite flummoxed at the terminology: one would think, since you're buying a Japanese maple, that you're getting a member of the species japonicum, but in fact 95% of the cultivars are of the species Acer palmatum. Then there are the moons: full moon maples, golden full moons, autumn moons. I saw Acer japonicum called full moon maple, but then Acer shirasawanum was also called full moon maple, with also shirasawanum golden full moon maple, and shirasawanum Autumn Moon maple. I finally found out that shirasawanum used to be lumped in with japonicum; when it was split off into a new species, it kept the common name of full moon maple. The golden full moon maple (aureum) is a yellow-foliaged version of shirasawanum, and Autumn Moon is a specific cultivar that has "autumn" colors in both its spring and fall foliage: I guess it could be called Acer shirasawanum Autumn Moon full moon maple. I have both aurem and Autumn Moon in the garden; the aureum is only two feet tall, and if not the slowest growing tree in the entire plant world, it's at least in the running. Let's just say I have no immediate plans to hang a birdfeeder in it.Posted by Picasa

Thanks for the lesson on Japanese maples. I never noticed that before about the different cultivars. I have 3 different kinds on our property but I would love to collect more. I've been disappointed to see so many of the pretty ones listed only as hardy to zone 6. Last year I tried my fate with cuttings & was very successful. Now I have little Japanese maples growing in every crook & cranny. Be glad I don't know where you live or I might be tempted to visit with pruners considering what a beauty that is. lol
Wow. That's a lot of Latin!

I was amazed to see Acer 'Full Moon' (that's how it was listed), as one of this county's recommended trees for planting. Also listed was the Kentucky Coffee tree and the Pistache. Hmmm....Someone is getting wise and steering homeowners away from Silver Maple and Bradford Pear!!
P.C.; if you ever find yourself passing through Iowa City, stop by(with your shears). We have perhaps thirty different JM's (though a lot are quite small yet).
Sissy; that IS wild that they would list full moon maples. City arborists like trees that don't get big, and a neighborhood full of these in the fall would be gorgeous.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?