A Maple Mystery

Discussion in 'Maples' started by PlantExplorer, Sep 3, 2003.

  1. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    This tree was sold to a neighbour of mine as Acer circinatum – Vine Maple. She still has the label that clearly states the name (and the name of the nursery that shall remain nameless), and she told me that it was pulled from a group of trees that looked very similar to the one she had purchased. Clearly this tree has little in common with A. circinatum, but the question is – What is it?

    The leaves average 10-15cm in length, are consistently 5-lobed, are dark green and surprisingly leathery (much like a Prunus lusitanica leaf in texture). The new leaves are initially flushed red, then become distinctively glossy dark green by the summer, while the petioles maintain their red colouration. The tree is deciduous, with the leaves becoming red in autumn.

    The bark is striped green and grey-white (Section Macrantha). The tree stands about 3m tall, appears to grow relatively fast (30-70+ cm per annum) and apparently has yet to flower or fruit.

    I have searched the RHS Dictionary, among other books, and was unable to find any matching description. Any ideas?
     

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  2. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    The tree is almost certainly Acer oliveranum subsp. formosanum, a native of Taiwan. Acer serrulatum is a synonym. The Botanical Garden has a number of accessions of this taxon and they all exhibit glossy leaves that emerge red, and striped, glaucous stems. We would be very interested to know where this plant was purchased, as we aren't aware of a local commercial source.
     
  3. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    Acer oliveranum subsp. formosanum

    Thanks Douglas! This one really had me stumped.

    I’ve just talked again with the owner, to clarify a few details – it was 2-3 years ago that she purchased the tree. She had purchased two or three maples at the time, and all were just starting to leaf. She is now not certain that this one was the one that bore the label, but it was in among the vine maples and priced accordingly. She selected it for the bark, its greater vigour, and early leaf colour – and clearly ended up with a real find.
     
  4. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    It’s been a couple of years, but now I have some not so great news; this tree is succumbing to some sort of dieback.

    I was wondering if this was also happening to the specimens at UBC, and if so, is there any reasonable treatment, or do you think that this may just be because it's beyond the limits of its hardiness? The owner loves this tree and is willing to go to some lengths to save it, if she can. Any advice would be welcome.
     
  5. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Our trees are doing fine as far as I know, but perhaps Douglas can chime in.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Being a Palmata, it is probably prone to the same fungal/bacterial problems that are more than rare on Japanese maples in this area.
     
  7. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Acer oliverianum subsp. formosanum (Koidzumi) Murray (syn: A. serrulatum Hayata) is from low to medium elevations on Taiwan and is probably suffering from the effects of our previous winter (it was minus 10C here in the garden).

    P.S. I'd still like to know from where it was purchased.
     

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