Friday, June 22, 2012

Momiji Madness

Acer palmatum 'Manyo no sato'

"Momiji" means Japanese maple in Japanese. I've been itching to get to today's blog for quite some time. As promised last week, I will discuss some of the "newer" Japanese maples. Understand clearly, I mean by "newer" to be those that are fairly new to me. I don't care if you or somebody else had it one or ten years ago, in other words. Acer palmatum 'Manyo no sato' is new and very popular with those who see it. I was surprised that it was introduced in 1993, that long ago, but I've only had it for six or seven years. With some plants, like many of the Japanese maples, one can build up stock quickly, and a propagating nursery could produce a million a year twenty years after acquiring a plant. Yes, a million every year.

I collected names at the beginning of my career, with an urge to have more Japanese maple cultivars than anyone else. Fortunately I got over that silly compulsion many years ago; and furthermore, I have abandoned my "Noah's Ark" complex, where: once a plant was acquired, I had to keep it--at least one--in the permanent plant collection. It was an addiction, but I have since recovered. And now I smile smugly--but with complete understanding--at the young knuckleheads who pursue horticulture the same way as I used to.

Acer palmatum 'Rainbow'

New cultivars are being introduced at a dizzying pace, and maple authors quickly realize that to catalog all of them is impossible. That does not mean, of course, that we all should pause and allow a system to catch up with the introductions. But are the new ones any good? The answer is: maybe, in my experience, and that includes some of my own introductions. Acer palmatum 'Rainbow' is the greatest cultivar ever, featuring bright red shoots, or pink swirled onto purple, or...uh oh...just dark purple growth that can dominate the variegated portions. I have some larger trees that would easily command thousands of dollars, and others of equal age that would be difficult to sell. I'm possibly guilty of growing my maples too fast, thus creating my own reverting problem.

Acer palmatum 'Koto buki'

Acer palmatum 'Ginja'

My start of Acer palmatum 'Koto buki' arrived as a few sticks of scionwood. Of the three to survive, I seem to have three different plants. The smallest is the most colorful, and it causes visitors to gasp. The medium-size tree shows less variegation, but is still quite nice. The largest tree displays hardly any variegation at all. And guess what? The most choice of the three is also the most difficult to propagate. A maple collector asked me if I had the cultivar Acer palmatum 'Ginja'. My answer was yes and no, as my oldest tree has reverted to 75% green, and only 25% with the cream-white variegation. It's unsaleable as is, i.e. not really "true to name," but also unsaleable if I were to butcher off the reverted portion.

Acer palmatum 'Little Sango'

Acer palmatum 'Little Sango'

Acer palmatum 'Winter Flame'

Acer palmatum 'Fjellheim'

My new Acer palmatum 'Little Sango', derived from a witch's broom mutation, joins a list of other mutants that are colorful (in winter) and dwarf--so that would seem to be a winning combination. But, the issue is whether or not it can survive our winter. The similar Acer palmatum 'Winter 'Flame' is hardy, but Acer palmatum 'Fjellheim' is not.

Acer palmatum 'Orange Dream'

Acer palmatum 'Fireglow'

Acer palmatum 'Red Flash'

Acer shirasawanum 'Jordan'

Acer palmatum 'Summer Gold'

A couple of golden cultivars come from Italy, from the Gilardelli Nursery, who already can boast of a number of introductions, such as Acer palmatum 'Stella Rossa', 'Orange Dream', 'Fireglow' and 'Red Flash'. Their new golden Acer shirasawanum 'Jordan' is no doubt a palmatum-shirasawanum hybrid, and was discussed in a previous Flora Wonder blog (Friday, June 1st, 2012) about the diversity of Acer shirasawanum cultivars. Gilardelli's similar Acer palmatum 'Summer Gold' is listed as a palmatum, but it has roundish leaves, hinting perhaps of some shirasawanum involvement. The question is, which can take the heat the best? And I'll further qualify that question: "heat" does not mean the muggy, humid climate of America's mid-west and east coast; "heat" refers to the piercing sunshine we get in Oregon every summer, when temperatures can climb to over 100 degrees F, with no humidity.

When the elder Gilardelli visited here ten years ago, I thought he would be impressed with my largest specimen of Acer palmatum 'Fireglow'. He wasn't. He waved it off and said his new Acer palmatum 'Red Flash' was much better. I stayed alert to the news and eventually acquired 'Red Flash'. 'Red Flash' has its moments, such as when the faded purple-red foliage is redeemed with bright-red flashes of new growth in the summer. I conclude that it is different from 'Fireglow', but not "better," at least not here in my nursery.

Acer circinatum 'Pacific Fire'

Acer circinatum 'Pacific Fire'

Acer palmatum 'Kitsu shidorje'

All spring we have enjoyed Acer palmatum 'Kitsu shidorje'. I've seen it spelled differently in the Vertrees 4th edition, as 'Kitsu shidorie'. In any case, it is a vigorous green upright with orange new growth.' From a distance, it looks similar to a plant featured in last week's blog, Acer circinatum 'Pacific Fire'. I previously assumed that the name "Pacific Fire" referred to the bark's orange-red winter color, and only just now can imagine that it could have been named for the fire-like orange of the new growth. I'm associating 'Kitsu shidorje' with 'Pacific Fire' for another reason, because while allegedly being a palmatum, 'Kitsu shidorje's' leaf has a partial circinatum look to it. It is roundish, cercis-like. The middle lobe can often be truncated, suggesting a witch-broom origin. Step forward if you know more.

Acer palmatum 'Taylor'

Acer palmatum 'Marlo'

There are a lot of new variegated "bush-types" that can be very attractive. Acer palmatum 'Taylor' is a patented selection from Van der Maat in Holland. Acer palmatum 'Marlo', also from Holland, is similar. For me, they easily replace the old cultivar, Acer palmatum 'Butterfly', which I don't grow anymore. Acer palmatum 'Shojo no mai' is a larger version of 'Taylor' and 'Marlo', and all three display a lot of pink in the foliage. They are all too new for me to know if one is better than the other. And again, "better" for me might not be for you. Probably none of them are suited for lower than USDA zone 6 gardening, unless you consider them pretty annuals.

Acer palmatum 'Ilarian'

Acer palmatum 'Ori zuru'

Acer palmatum 'Aizumi nishiki'

Our introduction, Acer palmatum 'Ilarian', is not so new. But I think it is a more colorful selection than the old standby, 'Oridono nishiki'. Similar new cultivars are 'Ori zuru' and 'Aizumi nishiki'. I do not have sufficient experience yet to suggest that one is more worthy than another.

Acer palmatum 'Ikandi'

Acer palmatum 'Alpenweiss'

Perhaps the most spectacular of the variegated forms is Acer palmatum 'Ikandi', but again, it is too new for me to predict its future. Its seed parent was Acer palmatum 'Alpenweiss', which itself can be quite colorful.

Acer palmatum 'Japanese Princess' in spring

Acer palmatum 'Japanese Princess' in summer

Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa' in fall

Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa' in spring

Consider a fantastic dwarf named Acer palmatum 'Japanese Princess', which we are feverishly trying to build up our stock on. This originated as a seedling from Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa'. Our famous, oldest specimen of 'Mikawa yatsubusa' has had a group of Acer palmatum 'Red Emperors' strategically placed across the road from it. Our hope is that we might develop a red-leaf form of Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa'. 'Japanese Princess' is close to that goal, but eventually the pinkish-red spring color gives way to speckled cream-white leaves with a pink blush. But that color is unusual enough too.

Acer sieboldianum 'Kumoi nishiki'

Acer palmatum 'Ukigumo

I'll mention one final cultivar: Acer palmatum 'Kumoi nishiki', an elegant variegated selection with bright white creamed onto rounded green leaves. But to look at it, you being to wonder if it's even a Japanese maple. Why are the young shoots hairy, as well as the undersides of the leaves? Well it is a Japanese maple, but the species is sieboldianum. So we had to relabel all of our plants. Sieboldianum is suggested to be a zone more hardy than palmatum, a good thing, although we graft 'Kumoi nishiki' onto palmatum rootstock. Everything about it is good, as it has a cheerful appearance similar to Acer palmatum 'Ukigumo'.

Acer palmatum 'Hama otome'

Acer palmatum 'Akebono'
Acer palmatum 'Emma'

Acer palmatum 'Usu midori'

Acer palmatum 'Spring Plum'

Acer palmatum 'Shin hikasa'
Acer palmatum 'Satsuki beni'

As usual, I could go on and on with new maple varieties. See photos above and below, as I think these maples are just as good as those I've described. We have so many new plants--perennials, alpines, conifers, choice deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs, as well as dozens of new maples. I can think of no other place on earth where a plant enthusiast could have more fun.

Acer palmatum 'Kurenai jishi'

Acer palmatum 'Asagi nishiki'

Acer palmatum 'Green River'
Acer shirasawanum 'Moonrise'

Acer palmatum 'Kawahara Rose'

Acer palmatum 'Calico'

Acer palmatum 'Red Blush'

Acer palmatum 'Saiho'

Acer palmatum 'Mayday'
Acer palmatum 'Murasaki shikibu'

Acer palmatum 'Peve Multicolor'

Acer palmatum 'Peve Multicolor'

Acer palmatum 'Beni kosode'

Acer palmatum 'Kuro hime'

Acer palmatum 'Ogi tsuma gaki'

Acer palmatum 'Pink Filigree'

Acer palmatum 'Green Tea'

Acer palmatum 'Beni hagoromo'

Acer palmatum 'Kawahara no midori'

Acer palmatum 'Orion'

Acer palmatum 'Tsuru no mai'

Acer palmatum 'Phoenix'

Acer palmatum 'Pinkie'

Wow! Maple madness, or maple marvelous? Thanks to my employees for making it all possible.


  1. Wow, what a listing of maple cultivars. Thanks for the pictures.My addiction to this group of plants is only tempered by my old age. The only question is , what's next? Will you be offering all of these at a wholesale offering?

  2. You have some awesome pix here. I can completely understand your concerns about JM addiction. My wife is convincedd I'm addicted. But this is probably not so true as she would like to think. "I can stop any time." Oops. OK. I'm a junkie. But the only ones I have HAD to have are what I refer to as the Ghost family (Amber, Baby, Grandma, Purple, Sister, and Uncle Ghost, plus Ghost Dancer) Peaches & Cream, and the Geishas, plus my favorite - Toyama Nishiki. Of course, I probably have run out of memory of all the different varieties I do have, and I was right on the edge of putting more purchases on hold...But now I see all these great JMs and I only have about 1/3 of them or so - OK, maybe half. Love Pinkie. 'Beni kosode', Red Blush (is it really that gorgeous or did you use PhotoShop?)and 'Shin hikasa'.

  3. Thanks for posting such awesome pics! It looks like I will be adding more cultivars to my wishlist. I have no problem owning my addiction. If adding beauty to the world is my only vice I will take it ;) I will patiently await the arrival of the Buchholz truck next spring! Until then, keep fueling the fire!

  4. I am not so patient, I am ready to send a truck down now to fill it full of the goodies. Great job guys at Buchholz in providing us with the wonderful photos and the information about the trees.

  5. Talon I must say I am "knucklehead". I really enjoy your blog, and always look forward to the next! Do you ever share your photos for commercial use? Our website is meaning many trees in Japanese or "knucklehead" Nursery :)

  6. Wonderful! So many cultivars and with good pictures.. I copied many to my computer, only for my dreams, my garden is too little, I have only 2..:( .

  7. I forgot to ask, somebody maybe knows - what could be reason that my Acer Taylor died, 3 of them planted one after one lived only 1 - 2 seasons? Planted in rather sunny spot in right soil - and I have grown some other Acers before and now, they are OK!

  8. sheesh.........thanx for putting up with us knuckleheads........
    maybe without all us knucklehead collectors you'd be out of business you know?