Identifying ancient specimens?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Poetry to Burn, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    My sister lives in Merion PA. Plenty of gardens, gardeners and nurseries in this area. Her house is about 100yrs old and I thought this maple was the same vintage. Is it possible to id trees like this? It seems like a selected form (to me at least) because of the small leaf size and the great coloring. She says it makes tons of samaras but she's never noticed offspring.

    The pic does not begin to convey the timeless quality of this plant.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 25, 2007
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Acer palmatum (and yes, a very nice specimen!!). At that age, quite possibly a generic example of the species, rather than a selected named cultivar.
     
  3. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Michael thanks for taking a look. I wonder if there was any selection of palmatum cultivars available at the time this tree was planted. Up close the size of the leaves gets your attention and seems unique.
     
  4. Sigtris

    Sigtris Active Member

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    That tree is so beautiful I could easily live under it.
    You are lucky to have such a wonderful tree
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Yes: foliage characteristics would point toward it NOT being a selection, if anything. But there are so many selections - hundreds, in fact - including some that are not obvious major departures from common types.

    Without confirming planting records or core sample age estimates remain just that - estimates.
     
  6. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Beautiful tree indeed.
    There is a Japanese catalog (Yokohama nursery??) dating back the 19th century. So selections of A. palmatum propagated by grafting have existed for a very long time.

    Concerning leaf size, seedlings come out in great variety of sizes but I do not know what you mean by selection,

    - a seedling selected from a bed of other, less attractive, seedlings?, or
    - a named cultivar likely propagated by grafting?

    Gomero
     
  7. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    No, the Wada plants were primarily propagated
    by rooted cuttings. Yes, older trees in a landscape
    can be identified with some of the today's known
    cultivars that were around back in the 1700's in
    Japan (as noted in both the Japanese Maples books
    as well as the Maples of the World book).

    Many of the older East Coast Japanese Maples
    came from European sources, primarily from
    Holland, from an arboretum in Germany and
    from England into Pennsylvania. This Maple
    is not a typical green leafed Acer palmatum but
    is a selected form but we need to see what the
    Spring and Summer colors are and what those
    consistent leaf colors are over time. The Fall
    leaf and petiole color and the leaf shape tells
    me this is a cultivated named form.

    Jim
     
  8. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Very interesting!

    Gomero by selection i meant a plant that was singled out, propagated and named. I did not think it would be a grafted plant because of propagation practices at the time it was planted.

    Ron I felt the same as Mr.Shep that the leaf (and petiole) suggest a cultivated form. Also it has a center stage siting in the landscape and around here, even 100yrs ago, you would expect something special.

    Sig, yes it would make an enchanted home and imagine dreaming under the tree! Although it must be a seasonal residence.

    Mr.Shep thanks for your observations. I will post spring and summer pics next year.

    Thanks everyone.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2007
  9. spookiejenkins

    spookiejenkins Active Member

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    Hi G - Merion, PA? Isn't that the town where Wolff's Red Maple Nursery was located? There's a chance for some interesting history there... Does your sister know the family that owned the home/land previously? It is truly a lovely tree and worth the extra digging I would think. Just the kind of project I love. :) Great photos. A very majestic specimen.
     
  10. alex66

    alex66 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Very beautiful maple and very beautiful pics!for me is Palmatum subsp. amoenum....
    why you not germinate the seed in greenhouse?
     
  11. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Alex, thanks for compliment. I will gather samara's next year. Should be enough to pass around if anyone is interested.

    Spook, Red Maple Nursery was in Media. Media is close by Merion. There are several nurseries in this area with very deep roots. And there are estates and homes dating back to near colonial times. My sister does know a bit about previous owners. I'll check with her and dig a lil bit to see how far back her facts go.

    Appreciate the interest.
     
  12. spookiejenkins

    spookiejenkins Active Member

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    Merion/Media... Sorry for the mix up. Red Maple Nursery is on my mind lately. :) Maybe the previous owners know something more about the origin/age of the tree. If not, maybe they know the owners of the home before them. I love digging that kind of info up. There is always a neat story in there somewhere.
     
  13. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Esteemed Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    That's a marvelous specimen.
     
  14. sarahatbernheim

    sarahatbernheim Active Member Maple Society

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    Poetry,
    I would love to get a couple seeds. Your specimen is absolutely beautiful.

    Sarah
     
  15. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    This tree was in her neighbors garden. Sublime. Again, to me, looks like a named cultivar.
     

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  16. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    I was back to my Sisters for easter brunch and brought along a shovel and a few pots. Landscapers there had just completed a project beneath the 'ancient specimen'. I searched for a bit and found 2 seedlings one about 10" the other about 18". I potted those up and took em home. So there apparently are viable samaras produced by this old goat(ess).

    I'll post pics of the developing (???) juveniles.

    Plan to harvest samaras in the Fall.

    G
     
  17. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    truly beautiful specimens!! i've always loved this particular type of maple!

    lots and lots of history in merion! and lots of fantastic old homes with beautiful landscaping - most notably the gorgeous trees that abound!

    this particular type puts out a ton of seedlings - they tend to get mowed over before they are big enough to be noticed.

    edit: forgot!

    it's probably about 50 years old.
     
  18. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Ya agree Merion has some choice plantings.

    Not sure about the age but my guess would be closer to 100. I do not think this tree puts out so many offspring. The area under the tree is not mowed and my sister has never even noticed a seedling before I pointed out these little whips. I've never seen it a huge amount of samaras on this tree.
     
  19. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    well, it's about the same size as the neighbors' tree at the house i grew up in...it was planted (and at least 10 years old at that point) when i was a kid and i'm in my mid-forties.

    it's also not as large as a current neighbors' tree and she has documentation (pictures) to indicate it's age - 60-65.

    although, if it was pruned regularly at some point in it's life, that could answer for it being older - the trunk seems to match the two trees i'm referencing though. one is gone (hit by lightening) so i can't take pics...the other died last year - there's still a good portion of the stump there if you want me to take a pic of it for comparision purposes.

    oh, seedlings don't necessarily start up right under the parent; they tend to be far from the tree. as a kid, we always had seedlings in the back yard and that tree was in the front of their house. my current neighbors tree had seedlings all the time in my yard and i'm 4 houses away. in both situations they are/were the only one of it's type in the immediate area.
     
  20. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    oh, seedlings don't necessarily start up right under the parent; they tend to be far from the tree.

    Turns out that there is a bit more to where "they tend to be"

    Also I think it's hard to gauge scale in looking at the pic. If you'd like to get close enough to make a legit age assessment it's on Winding Way right off Montgomery ave. It's remarkable enough to warrant a detour.
     
  21. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    oh, geez! that's right around the corner from my work (narberth)! i think i will take a ride over tomorrow and take a look at it :) i've always loved the houses on that street - we drove through on it when going to my grandparents house.

    that article is terrific - very interesting/informative!
     
  22. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Joclyn,

    It's about 2 miles from downtown Narberth. 251 winding way, it looks most spectacular in fall it's not leafed out at all right now.

    Glad you found the article interesting.

    Gil
     
  23. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    oh, yeah, i know the street...years ago, when i was a kid, there was this house there that was painted the most garish colors!! very, very bright primary colors inside the woodwork on the side of the house. ugh!! makes me shudder to think about it, it was THAT bad!! definitely not something you ever forget!

    thanks for the number - will save me time driving aimlessly up and down the street...although, i'll probably do that anyhoo...it's such a nice area :)

    oh, yes, i agree! the coloring in the fall is spectacular on this type of tree!!
     
  24. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    I collected about 50 or so samaras from that tree this week. They are very small. If anyone want to try a few send a PM with your address. (Carlos i have a few for you)
     
  25. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    i didn't get a chance to drive by at the time i posted...wasn't till about a month later. beautiful tree!! i was just past there monday on an errand for work and ran out of time to run by and take a pic of it with fall colors (had the camera with me).
     

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