Aratama or Shaina or something else?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by maf, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Hi, I am trying to identify a red dwarf/broom type Palmatum that I bought unlabeled about six years ago, and would appreciate some help from the knowledgeable people here. I don't usually buy no-name plants but it was a bargain and I couldn't refuse.

    I have always thought it was Aratama as this was the only cultivar in Vertrees 2nd edition that was anything like it. Since browsing the galleries here and seeing some stock (not leafed out yet) at a local garden centre it has come to my attention that Shaina is somewhat similar. There are also some similar newer cultivars, but I guess these are mainly distributed in the US and therefore unlikely in this case.

    The tree is approximately ten years old (at least) and is about three feet wide and high and of a dense character with short internodes and much branching. The centre lobe of most leaves is truncated, and there is much dieback of the smaller twigs every year, (and occasionally of medium sized branches) but the tree is always vigorous. It is kept in a container and the graft point is about eight inches above the soil level, which seems higher than most of my maples. It takes full sun very well but seems to prefer growing outwards to upwards.

    Here are some pictures, The first two show the leaf shape and the colour that develops in the autumn:
    autumn aratama leaf.jpg autumn aratama leaf2.jpg
    Here is one showing the shape of the tree and the summer (june) colouration (next to a Coonara Pygmy) and one taken today showing the emerging buds and the twig/branch structure:
    Aratama.jpg P1010161.jpg
    Any help is greatly appreciated. I am sure many of you own specimens of both Aratama and Shaina, judging by the large collections many of you lucky people have, and may have an easy way of telling the difference.

    Thanks,
    maf
     
  2. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hi Maf,

    I'm a relative novice at this, but I'll put out my two cents worth since no one else has yet responded.

    I just got my Aratama last fall and I am impatiently awaiting it's leaf out, so not much I can tell you there yet.

    I saw a Shaina in person at Nishiki Nursery (http://nishikinursery.com/index.htm) that was substantially larger than three feet. I'd say five and a half? Just going from memory here. Also Vertrees indicates Shaina will be 3 or more meters at full height (about 9+feet). So my guess is that your ten year old three foot tree is probably not a Shaina.
     
  3. katsura

    katsura Active Member 10 Years

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    1 way to tell the difference between Aratama and Shaina is the former has more colorful veins on
    the leaves - Aratama "greens" more several weeks after the tree has leafed out and Shaina keeps
    its solid red so wait a bit and the tree will disclose more. Both are great witches brooms with that
    signature foreshortened center lobe.
    winterhaven, I don't blame you for eagerly awaiting your Aratama leafing out - it is 1 of the loveliest
    maples and can vary from cerise to red. I have a show stopper that I put in our front yard this
    year for everyone to enjoy that leafs out cerise pink-red and is a blaze of color. I look forward to
    greeting it every late winter/early spring. Enjoy
     
  4. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Thanks for your opinions.

    Winterhaven, good point about the relative size, the tree is no more than a metre so that does make Aratama more likely. Some of the nursery sites I've been browsing also indicate a larger size for Shaina. I'm really starting to feel my Vertrees 2nd edition is out of date, but I'll wait for the 4th ed before upgrading.

    Katsura, I will definitely keep my eye on the leaf and vein colours as it leafs out. I seem to remember that the veins do stand out, but I don't have any photos so I'm just going on memory here. I also seem to remember that the red is less purple than the typical Atropurpureum types so maybe that also indicates Aratama.

    The problem I have encountered whilst comparing pictures of the two cultivars online is that both show much variation of colour and leaf shape. It is very hard to make a definite identification from such pictures. I am going to visit Westonbirt Arboretum later this month, which among its 3000 diffreent trees houses a large collection of Japanese Maples, but unfortunately they only have Shaina and not Aratama (according to their website) so I will likely not find a definite answer there either.

    Thanks again, and all other points of view are welcome.
     
  5. swanny

    swanny Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Maf,

    I don't know if these pictures will help or not, I have a small, less than 2 feet, 'Aratama' and a 'Shaina'. The pictures were taken on the indicated dates.

    Swanny
     

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  6. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Thanks swanny, mine is still some way from being fully leafed out, but those pictures will be a useful comparison. One thing I did notice is your Aratama has greenish petioles, is it always like this? Mine seem to be red, more like the Shaina pictures. Also all of last year's twigs are a strong red/purple colour, no green.

    I decided to do a last minute root prune and repot today, and one weird thing I noticed about the tree is that the trunk below the graft point is significantly thinner than above, usually its the other way round or they are the same diameter. Also I took some pictures of the emerging leaves:
    aratama3.JPG aratama4.JPG

    aratama5.JPG Excuse the aphids, didn't have time to squish them.
     
  7. swanny

    swanny Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Maf,

    I found two photos from 2007 of my 'Aratama' which do not exhibit the green coloring, have no idea why the change in 2008/9.

    Swanny
     

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  8. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Swanny, perhaps your tree received more shade in the later years? Mine gets full sun from late morning till sunset in summer and only shows the green tones on lower down, shaded leaves as far as I can remember.

    I've looked through the Maple Photo Gallery again and many of the Aratama photos show plenty of green, but then again so do some Shaina. It's very confusing. I don't think I can go by the colour alone as it is heavily affected by the environment.
     
  9. swanny

    swanny Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Maf,

    That is very possible about the amount of sunlight received as the plant is still in a container and I don't remember the locations for each specific year. My backyard is heavily shaded by mature oak trees while the front yard receives full sun. I place some of the trees in the front and some in the back.

    Swanny
     
  10. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    "the trunk below the graft point is significantly thinner than above"

    I read somewhere that Aratama is prone to that (probably on this forum)
     
  11. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Thanks winterhaven, I had never heard of this before, and it just seems wrong that the rootstock is thinner than the tree, it's like gravity in reverse. I searched the forum and found a couple of pictures of an Aratama that this had happened to, but to be honest the rootstock on that one looked borked with dead bark etc. Here is the link: http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=7073&highlight=aratama My tree looks more like the Circinatum little Gem example but the difference in size between the rootstock and the top is not so pronounced. I will post some pictures as soon as I take some if anyone is interested.

    As an aside, I looked again yesterday at the examples of Shaina at my local garden centre and they had all been grafted high on long tall thin green sticks, and to be honest they looked horrible.
     
  12. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I've been trying to remember what I heard/saw regarding this. Bear in mind I have yet to graft maples myself so this is a bit esoteric for me.

    Um, my hazy recollection is that Aratama has tiny diameter scion wood. So compatible root stock is limited and that the "problem" will occur many years down the road when Aratama thickens faster than the root stock. I don't recall it being mentioned in the first thing I read/heard that this was necessarily due to one being more vigorous than the other, just that the two pieces could have different growth patterns.

    But I think it is a very interesting question and I hope to hear more from the experienced grafters out there.
     
  13. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Here is a picture of the graft point showing the difference in diameter between the two parts. I note that all my trees of a similar and even a smaller size have a *much* thicker trunk than this at the base. It is hard to measure exactly without calipers but the rootstock is approximately one inch diameter.
    Aratama graft point.jpg
     
  14. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I took some snapshots of my Aratama. Unfortunately the macro button is shot on my camera so I've been having trouble getting it to focus on the leaves rather than the background. But they should convey the idea.
     

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  15. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Nice tree Winterhaven, I remember now I've seen it in another thread and thought how good it looked.

    I note the increase in girth above the graft point, similar to my example. The branch structure and bark colouration are also similar, but my leaves and leafstalks have no green in them yet. The leaf colour of my tree is looking more like Shaina so far this year, I will have to observe it closely over the coming months; time will tell.
     
  16. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Thank you, I acquired it last fall and I'm very excited about it.
     
  17. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    It is four months later and I am still not sure which witch`s broom this maple is. From what I have seen in real life and through photographs on the internet the leaves are too small and the wrong shape to be 'Shaina', and the petioles and midribs of the leaves are not green enough to be 'Aratama'. Or it just could be the cultural conditions causing the colour to look different or whatever. Of course there are other broom type JMs available, but these two mentioned are the most widely distributed in England, and even those are not that common.

    Considering the identification of this tree is limited to a relatively small sub-section comprising only witch`s brooms it should not be as difficult as the usual Japanese maple ID requests......at least in theory; in practice it is hurting my head.

    Here are some better photographs showing the tree in spring and summer, hopefully someone may recognise a particular characteristic and be able to suggest which cultivar this may be. The tree is grown in a container and is exposed to full sun from late morning until almost sunset, admittedly that is only the British version of full sun so not as bright as the US or southern Europe.

    Picture 1 taken 14th of May:

    ara1.jpg

    Pictures 2 and 3 taken 12th of June:

    ara2.jpg ara3.jpg

    All other pictures taken 16th of August. Picture 4 shows the top growth, the others show some lower, more shaded growth, so that you can see how the greens blend in to the overall colour:

    ara4.jpg ara5.jpg ara6.jpg

    ara7.jpg ara8.jpg

    Thanks for looking.
     
  18. katsura

    katsura Active Member 10 Years

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    maf,
    I just pulled leaves from my adult Aratama and Shaina that are both in full 80-100F all day sun
    and looked at them carefully and I believe yours is a 'Shaina' because the veins are red vs green
    on Aratama and because the lobes are longer and more incised in your 16 August pics than on
    my Aratama and look like my Shaina. Also many of the earlier cerise-color pics looked like Shaina
    to me and just the general growth characteristics. I believe you have a Shaina which was found
    and named by Billy Schwartz of Philadelphia for his daughter Shaina both of whom I am delighted
    to say like your tree are thriving.
     
  19. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Thank you katsura.
    I know you collect witch's broom maples so I feel I can trust your judgement on this identification - I have taken the symbolic step of writing out a plant label for my tree!

    Incidentally, I visited Westonbirt Arboretum earlier this year and the 'Shaina' there looked different to mine, the leaves were larger and the shape of many of the leaves at the base where the petiole attaches was different, not truncate like mine. Maybe their tree was just over-fertilised or something? While there I had the pleasant opportunity to view many Japanese maples I had never seen before, including several brooms such as 'Royle', 'Carlis Corner' and 'Jerre Schwartz', none of which looked the same as my tree.

    Thanks again for your trouble katsura, and especially thanks for saying my 'Shaina' is thriving!
     

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