Which venerable maple is this?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by winterhaven, May 15, 2009.

  1. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I know this tree is over twenty years old because the previous owners of the home lived here for twenty years and the tree predated them.

    Spring color is bright, deep red. Late spring color is a dark red. Summer color is maroon. Fall colors are a mix of apricot colors that then turn bright orange. Oddly, the only time I saw any green on the tree last year was between maroon and orange.

    Many pictures are attached...

    Times of year: Spring, Spring, Spring, Spring, Late Spring (also typical of Summer and Late Summer), Early Fall (looking up through the leaves), Spring, Mid Fall, Late Fall, Early Fall
     

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  2. alex66

    alex66 Rising Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    maybe Akegarasu...
     
  3. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    Wow -- what a lovely tree in a perfectly harmonious setting!

    Were you lucky enough to find a house with this wonderful landscaping, or is your own hand at work here?
     
  4. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Kaspian, my husband and I joke that we bought the place for the trees.

    The previous owners said that the person they bought the place from was into gardening and so they "hadn't touched the gardens" in their twenty years of ownership because they were afraid to do anything. Whimper, whimper. No mulch, no soil amendments, no trimming (they did trim a lot to list it, but still a lot to do). So I've been trimming down overgrow salal, heather, and rhododendrons in order to let in at least some light. Oh, and did I mention the ivy hanging in sheets from all but a few of the trees?

    But we love the place, especially the trees.

    Alex, thanks for the idea, but I'm not sure this tree fits that cultivar. According to Vertrees III Akegarasu's leaves should be "divided nearly to the leaf base."

    The thing that seems to set this red tree apart from others is the orange fall coloration. Unless maybe it's turning that fall color because the soil is played out? I really need to get some mulch out there sooner than later. I've uploaded another tree pic from fall, as you can see the dissectum in front of it turned an even brighter orange. But as I recall there was a time last fall when they were both about the same orange. But because of the sun angles that large tree is really hard to photograph.

    Edit: just added a second fall photo, but I'll add this caveat with the photo: it was taken in low light so it's pretty grainy.

    Edit: Kaspian, I found another pic I think you, especially, could enjoy.
     

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    Last edited: May 17, 2009
  5. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    My goodness, what a beautiful spot you've found there. What is that body of water in the background?

    Your water view is similar to (though better than) my own. I peek out through trees and across rooftops to Penobscot Bay, one of the northernmost necks of the Gulf of Maine. About a mile inland, to the west, is a small chain of low mountains called the Camden Hills. So here we are enclosed in a tiny maritime micro-climate -- as a result of which, overnight temperatures tonight on May 18 are predicted to fall to about 34°F. But the water should protect us from freezing. The maples don't seem to mind.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Flip through books like Vertrees and read about ones shown that look similar. Note, however that even if one seems quite like a cultivar described somewhere you really cannot be sure it is that same variety without confirming documentation (planting records) - there are just too many Japanese maples.

    An exception could be a correctly labeled matching specimen in a nearby collection.
     
  7. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    It does seem like it is almost impossible, unless the tree has some very unusual characteristics, to pin down a named cultivar of such an age with any level of comfort. Two reasons come to mind. One is the one than ron mentioned above - too many maples with a potentially similar features. Second, there is a pretty good chance that this is not a specific grafted cultivar but a seedling of A. palmatum. Absolute stunner of a tree.
     
  8. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Thanks for the compliments, kaspian, Paxi.

    Ron, Paxi, I have flipped through Vertrees III a few times looking at red cultivars, but so far I don't see one that turns orange in the fall, is red the rest of the year, and has that leaf shape. But I can live with not identifying the tree because I really enjoy it. It would just be nice to know what it is.

    Edit:
    Flipping through again, I'm lingering over Boskoop Glory. Boskoop Glory I missed the first time around because VIII says, "purple red with green undertones in early fall." I missed the early part of early fall. When I looked it up online for the actual fall color I'm seeing it referenced as "orange red." But isn't quite right.

    My tree starts red (for a few weeks it was the same spring color as Aratama), then darkens to a purple red all summer long, in fall I saw yellows and oranges. When I went down into that part of the garden and looked up is when I noticed the greening in the leaf. And the funny thing is, when I look back on the photos, the lighter more yellowy than orange side of the tree is the part that gets more sun.

    I'm also lingering on Kingsville Red. According to VIII, "leaves are seven lobed [check], separated almost three-quarters of the way to the leaf base [check, I think]. The leaves are 6-7 cm long and up to 10 cm wide [that sounds right]. The lobes are oblong, tapering to a slender tip [don't know exactly what this means... so maybe]. The smaller basal lobes of the palmate leaves tend to cup slightly upwards [um, never noticed this, but maybe slightly is so slight I just missed it]. The margins are finely double serrated, most prominently on the outer half of the lobe [what the heck does double serrated mean? But these leaves look pretty serrated, so sure, check. So far so good]. The petioles are 3-4 cm long and stiff [that's about right, but what is meant by stiff - stiff as a block of wood or just not floppy?]. And WHAT COLOR is this cultivar in the fall. I looked online but didn't see the answer. Argh!

    All right, I've looked all the way up throw M, I'll have to look more later.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2009
  9. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Based on the age of this tree it is probably
    not a seedling. Even if it was a seedling
    from a cultivar then which cultivar is it a
    seedling from?

    By all rights and what we know from the
    nursery trade in Maples 20-30 years ago
    we start with the feeling that this one is
    a cultivar.

    I know I have not helped much, only
    confused people even more in this
    regard but if we know what prevalent
    red group Maples do for color changes
    in a growing season we can pretty well
    lump this Maple into its particular red
    grouping such as either shojo, nigrum,
    atropurpureum, rubrum and nomura.
    Why is the grouping important? We
    then have a better idea as to what
    Maple it is and can rule out a number
    of similar Maples at the same time.
    We can then go another step further
    by determining is this tree a standard
    in size, a semi-dwarf or a dwarf form?
    If the tree is 15 feet or less in 25 years
    of being in a landscape, not including
    the age of the tree when it was planted
    as we do not know that answer, then
    we can conclude that it is probably a
    semi-dwarf form that has a palmate
    shaped leaf. Now taking all the above
    and fitting it into one equation we then
    have a better idea of what the Maple
    may be after we know which red group
    this Maple belongs to. Is the Maple
    a semi-dwarf at maturity and we know
    that it has a palmate shaped leaf as
    opposed to being a deeply divided leaf?
    We can then assume that this Maple
    or a relative of it is listed somewhere
    in the Vertrees second and Vertrees/
    Gregory third edition Japanese Maples
    books.

    We don't learn Maples in a landscape
    by running away from it. We work with
    what we can see and then later on if
    it comes to that feel the Maple is a
    seedling variant of an older named
    form. Nurserymen should know
    what this Maple probably is, so
    let's hear from them as many of
    them have sold much younger
    trees of this Maple, now let's
    see if they ever really knew
    what Maple they were selling?
    Even many nurserymen never
    really saw a mature tree of the
    grafted cultivars they have been
    selling for years.

    I am inclined to believe this is a
    named form but I want to know
    the overall height and spread
    (width) of the tree and learn
    the leaf sizes in the Spring
    upon leafing out and sizes of
    the last flush of new growth
    prior to the Fall color but the
    color changes this Maple makes
    in a growing season is consistent
    with other Maples in the nigrum,
    atropurpureum, and rubrum red
    groupings. We can rule out shojo
    and nomura pretty quick based on
    predominant Spring and/or Fall
    colors those other grouped Maples
    all share in a growing season.

    Assume that this Maple is a named
    cultivar first and then rule it out later
    if we suspect it as being a seedling.
    We also have to keep in mind that
    30 years ago there were really only
    about 5 nurseries growing seedlings
    in the US and in each case they were
    doing it not to fool people like we see
    so much of today but in hopes of
    finding a better colored tree for their
    location. It was not unusual for a
    Bloodgood, a rubrum group red to
    yield seedlings that were atropurpureum.
    The hope was to select out a Maple
    that had the overall same colored
    leaves and leaf sizes and shapes
    as the old Bloodgood Maple that
    could retain the good color all
    through the growing season unlike
    what Bloodgood does here in the
    Summer as an example. There
    was an East Coast seedling that
    was selected out over a period of
    years that could do just this in
    cooler growing locations. Thus
    this Maple became a better plant
    for Oregon and Pennsylvania than
    the former Bloodgood was for them.
    The problem was in the years to
    come with the constant grafting
    onto green seedling rootstock that
    caused some variances in leaf
    color, leaf sizes and leaf shapes
    that deter from both the old form
    Bloodgood and the Eastern grown
    Bloodgood. Now we see the rootstock
    induced Eastern Bloodgoods sold
    everywhere and it has to grate the
    people that knew of the old and
    improved Bloodgood forms to see
    these lesser individuals become
    the nursery standard trees in the
    industry. The photo of the
    atropurpureum form Bloodgood
    shown in the Vertrees book was
    that of a Red Maple nursery plant.
    The photos I posted in this forum
    of the misses tree is the old rubrum
    form from a 50 year old tree, at
    that time, on its own roots, now
    over 70 years old, of which her
    tree was grafted onto seedling
    Bloodgood from the Red Maple
    nursery tree.

    Jim
     
  10. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Kaspian,

    Winter lives on Puget Sound, and probably has one of the most spectacular views in the area. Across the sound is the city of Seattle, and at night its truly magical to see. She is quite modest about her fabulous property, but having seen it I can tell you there are few others that compare. I also covet her 400 year old Redwood tree! :-)
     
  11. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Jim, I really appreciate your reply. I need to look up those groupings so I can even begin to talk about things.

    In the meantime, the tree is approximately thirty feet tall and about twenty feet wide. I pulled an immature and a mature leaf pair off the tree to photo and measure. Um, my ruler's markings on the metric side are so rubbed off as to be illegible. And photos came out way too dark. It was a failed mision in all respects.

    I did learn that close up the tree's mature leaves are even darker than I thought. They look almost chocolately plum. Further, the undersides of the leaves, when the leaf was upside down on a white surface, had a distinct green cast that I did not percieve outside in daylight with said daylight streaming through the leaf.

    Update: I took a cloth tape out and measured the diameter of the tree as 34 inches (about 86.36 centimeters).
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2009
  12. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    OK. A little disclaimer about these photos. They were dark, so I optimized them in Photoshop. The spots are water droplets. The ruler is an architectural ruler I found in a drawer. I used the 50 scale because it seems to correlate to where the cm numbers should be on my metric/american ruler if they weren't illegible. Except it graduates by two's. Sigh.
     

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  13. alex66

    alex66 Rising Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Mirte!!
     
  14. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Alex, I appreciate the thought. But Mirte turns green and mine only shows hints of green after it has turned directly from dark purple red to yellows and oranges. And then the green is mainly on the undersides of the leaves. I think that is because the undersides of the leaves have a green overlay all year and then when the purple/maroon washes out the green is more visible.
     
  15. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Today I noticed creamy yellow samaras.
     
  16. Daniel Otis

    Daniel Otis Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Tsukushigata? Not sure the serrated edge matches, but the color seems about right. Taken on May 19--but then, I'm in Ithaca, NY.

    D.
     

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  17. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Maybe if the stems are green,too.
     
  18. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    It does remind me of Tsukushigata. But I don't see the green veining in the leaves. Here are some more pictures, including bark characteristics. Also I think Tuskushigata doesn't get as big. And what little I can find on fall color indicates scarlet for T.

    Summing up what I know about the tree:
    Approximate age: probably at least 30 years old and not older than 80 (probably not that old but a possibility due to presence of Zenhichi Harui on Bainbridge http://bainbridgegardens.com/welcome2.html)
    Height: 30-35 feet
    Width: 20-25 feet
    Girth: 34 inches at base of the tree
    Leaf colors: bright red with green undertones on the underside of the leaf, then very deep dark red (almost chocolaty plum) again with green shadings under the leaf but outside with sun streaming through the leaves they look more like a true red, then apricot colors (yellows/light oranges) with the green visible from under the leaf but not above, then orange.
    Leaf veining: not appreciable until fall when veins look yellow
    Number of lobes: 7
    Division of lobes: about 1/2 way to base?
    Edges: serrated - Q: What does double serrated mean and are these?
    Samaras: yellow (light, creamy yellow but not green)
    Bark color: brown, dark cinnamon colored in places, with vertical striations and white spots (the white spots may be environmental)
     

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  19. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    The 'Tsukushigata' here may get more sun than yours, not sure how that would affect the leaf and vein colouring. Maybe the veining seems more pronounced if there is unobstructed light above. Wouldn't be surprised if the tree here gets to 10m. {30'} eventually. 'Umegae' also has light coloured seeds and distinct veining it seems, but I'm not really familiar with it and understand it's smaller. Believe 'Boskoop Glory' samaras are red if the one here is correctly labeled. The link doesn't seem to work.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2009
  20. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    chimera, thanks for the awesome pics. Vertrees III indicates Umegae may reach 5 m at maturity (about 15 feet) and Tsukushi gata 4 m (about 12 feet) both of which is much smaller than my tree. But I think we're in the right family. Or maybe my tree is just really old and big for its type.

    But thanks all for the help.
     
  21. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Winterhaven, OK, there's some more info on 'Tsukushigata' in the photo gallery. Believe it's labeled correctly, not sure where i got it right now. Have a few here that may never be identified, would be nice though. Seems i can generally add some mature height to the books estimates with the high rainfall here. Thank you for the height references, seems the heights estimated are significantly higher in Vertrees 3rd edition than noted in the 2nd edition, for both trees mentioned. Maybe larger in the next book i guess or maybe they are referring to trees on their own roots, who knows. A local arboretum or botanical garden with correctly labeled trees and an accession list can be a lot of help with some cultivars identification, as Ron covered.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2009
  22. maf

    maf Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    I love the picture taken from below the canopy with the brown looking leaves and cream samaras. Fantastic. (And also the tree in general, it seems good at all times of year).

    I have no idea what cultivar your tree is but I would like to own one if you ever find out.

    With a Japanese owned nursery, that was unfortunately interrupted in such a xenophobic manner in the 1940's, there is also the possibility that they introduced new cultivars, maybe similar to existing ones, propogated them with or without naming them, and then lost all records in the disruption that followed. Do you think that any records remain from the pre-war years? If your tree is pre-war it seems most likely it came from Zenhichi Harui, but who knows without a date?

    Chimera's suggestion to search local parks and arboretums for another example of your tree is a good one, it might even be the only way to find an exact match.
     
  23. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Thanks for the compliment. I truly enjoy this tree the entire time it is in leaf. We'll have to see what we can work out.

    BTW, talked to previous owners and they said the tree was already quite large when they bought the house twenty years ago. Estimating from memory they guess at least half the current height. Plus they said a cedar limb fell on it and took out part of the canopy between then and now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009
  24. mattlwfowler

    mattlwfowler Active Member Maple Society

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    That reminds me of Oshu beni...but I've never seen one in person...so I don't know how far off I might be with that one. Not sure if it is deeply divided enough to be that tree.

    I grafted a tree labeled Okagami that reminds me a lot of that tree too, but the tree I have doesn't fit the description in Vertrees too well.
     

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