A.p. Kotobuki/Murasaki Shikibu

Discussion in 'Maples' started by amazondoc, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. amazondoc

    amazondoc Active Member

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    East TN, USA
    Hey all --

    I just got a young plant labeled 'Kotobuki'. One Japanese site says that Kotobuki is the same as 'Murasaki Shikibu'.

    I am not having any luck finding info on either one of these names. Has anyone here got a clue? This is a beautiful plant, variegation similar to 'Asahi Zuru' or 'Oridono Nishiki'. It's a first-year graft, but it already has heavy variegation on it. I don't have any pics right now, but I can probably get some tomorrow.

    Here's a pic from the Japanese site:


    and another from the Esveld site:


    Esveld seems to indicate that the 10 year height will be 1.5 m -- which would be fine with me, but this plant has grown so much just since it was grafted that I have trouble believing what Esveld says.

    I'd appreciate any info on this variety. Thanks in advance!
  2. marymyers

    marymyers Active Member Maple Society

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    Poulsbo, Washington, USA
    I am, also, looking at Kotobuki. Did you ever find any more information on this tree? A website called "Quality Maples" has it for sale on E-bay. I would like a little more info on it before I add it to my collection. Thank you for any help. Mary

    ROEBUK Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    West Yorkshire, England
    Interesting post this one, just what is Kotobuki/Murasaki Shikibu if you actually 'Google'this you get a very limited explanation to anything which may spread any relevant information on your search.

    All of the standard maple books have no mention of this cultivar what i can find? so you could assume that what's happened is some nursery somewhere as decieded to grow a "new" variation on something that's already out there and established.

    You state it looks similar to either 'Asahi Zuro' or 'Oridino Nishiki' which these two alone are quite difficult to seperate ie "which ones which" iv'e had one for years and still don't know 100% what i have?

    I think the clue lies with what you also say and quote "Esveld SEEMS to indicate" that this will grow to 1.5 meters in 10 years, you would naturally assume then this is a dwarf variety of one of the above that i just have mentioned, what is it's differential explanation between the cultivars? Its like saying whats the difference between a Winter Flame and Sango Kaku my reply is ones bigger than the other!! nothing to seperate them much but the size.

    This is just my opinion unless you find someone who can tell you definatively and explain what the cultivar will turn out like in years to come, and what makes it stand out from other variagated cultivars, but the main thing is to enjoy the tree!!!
  4. Houzi

    Houzi Active Member 10 Years

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    Kent England
    Ganshanku&e-momiji lists&shows them as seperate cultivars.However they do have a striking resemblance to Oridono Nishiki.Good luck with your search but for me they are too similar to the others to search out :)
  5. Shami

    Shami New Member

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    According to Buchholz nursery, Kotobuki is willowy. At least for me, this would be the important difference. Also, from the same source (Florawonder), Kotobuki is originally from Japan.
  6. JT1

    JT1 Contributor 10 Years

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    Euclid, OH USA
    Book for Maples
    Masayoshi Yano. Japan Maple Publishing Group, 2003

    Acer palmatum 'Murasaki Shikibu' (1985)
    The cultivar sold in Shikoku District. As there are several similar cultivars, it's difficult to distinguish among them. It is very variable, so if you get yellow variegated form it's called 'Hikaru genji'.

    When unfolding in Spring, the leaves are red extending young green color from the central part. The variegations are white-red and red. In Summer, the leaves are green with white and pale pink variegations. The autumn foliage is red.

    Source: Book for Maples

    If you go by Flora Yonder Blog it sounds like he is talking about 'Murasaki Shikibu', but refers to it as 'Kotobuki'; and mentons that it is not found in "Book for Maples". Note, that I did not find Kotobuki either. Is it because it's listed as 'Murasaki Shikibu'?

    Acer palmatum 'Kotobuki'

    Acer palmatum 'Orido no nishiki'

    All winter long my two largest specimens of Acer palmatum 'Kotobuki' attracted attention for their colorful trunks. Other variegated cultivars are notable for variegated trunks as well – such as Acer palmatum 'Orido no nishiki' – but so far 'Kotobuki' is the most spectacular. Kotobuki is a Japanese term that translates as a “happy celebration,” and the cheerful foliage is apt for the name. My start came from Japan, via Europe – legally of course – but I don't know more about its origin, for it is not listed in the Vertrees/Gregory book nor the Masayoshi Yano book. What I do know is that one tree will vary to some degree compared to another, and I suppose that's a result of which particular shoot was used in propagation. Out of my original three starts, the largest and most vigorous was retired for lack of variegation. Unfortunately the best shoots for color produce the weakest trees, so the experienced propagator must carefully select his scionwood. “Unstable” trees like 'Kotobuki' eventually find their way to market, but certainly it does not always guarantee a worthy tree; but at its best, 'Kotobuki' is a marvel.

    Source: Flora Wonder Blog: Maple Time

    Talon mentions Kotobuki (below in bold) again in another post:
    Pinus thunbergii 'Kotobuki'

    Acer palmatum 'Kotobuki'
    One more pine in the Hatch patch that I'll discuss is Pinus thunbergii 'Kotobuki'. The reason is because his (from me) is twice as large as any that I have, and I wonder why I didn't keep at least one around of the same age... We also grow Acer palmatum 'Kotobuki', one of the most colorful of all maples, although it at times can revert to just green.

    Source: Flora Wonder Blog: Grandfather's Garden

    Kotobuki is not mentioned in Book for Maples; this could be (note use of could be instead of "is") because it's listed under 'Murasaki Shikibu'? It seems Masayoshi Yano and Talon are talking about the same tree but are calling it by different names.

    Talon's picture of the red new growth also fits Masayoshi's description of 'Murasaki Shikibu' "When unfolding in Spring, the leaves are red extending"
    Pictures from both souces show red twigs and red petioles.
    The picture attached below from Book for Maples look to be of summer color based on Yano's description.

    Talon mentions his Kotobuki came from Japan via Europe. Whereas Yano is in Japan referring to a Japanese cultivar with first hand experience. Putting it all together one would think Talon's tree is 'Murasaki Shikibu' and somewhere between Japan via Europe to Talon it became Kotobuki? I use a question mark because it's not a definite statement.(although it seems logical)

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    Last edited: May 20, 2018
    AlainK likes this.

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