Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Japanese maple, 'Beni kawa' in fall colors

Since we haven't had a killing frost yet the trees have been very slow to turn. Only a few of the sassafras, sumacs and street maples are slowly changing color.

For some reason this 'Beni kawa' (Beni=red, kawa=skin/covering/bark) Japanese maple started to turn very early in mid October. I bought the tree as a foot tall, one year old graft, two years ago and it has grown to be about 4 feet tall now.

I love the delicately colored pinkish yellow leaves contrasted by the bright red trunk and branches. A very lovely tree and it formed a wonderful shape with almost no pruning. I would highly recommend this small tree to anyone interested in planting a Japanese maple. I believe I bought it for $15 plus shipping by mailorder.

In the background to the left in the first photo you can see a Red dissectum Japanese maple and directly back of the 'Beni kawa', a 'Seiryu', green dissectum Japanese maple, both don't seem anywhere close to changing colors.

Here's another view of the tree. I have to remember to pick up those cedar shakes I drove into the ground to make a border to contain the pebbles. I thought cedar was rot resistant but not so, they deteriorated in a year or two.


Anonymous Pam/Digging said...

Your Japanese maples are beautiful. One of my neighbors has a sapling, and I hope it grows well for him. They're not ideally suited to Austin's soils, but some people do make a go of them.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Pam,
I was curious if Japanese maples would grow in a desert climate and I was surprised to learn that a few people grow them in New Mexico. I guess there are always some people who would try anything. Austin must be a bit milder than Albuquerque, at least a bit more humid so I'm not surprised that some grow them there. They are a very nice small tree. But, they like acid soil so they won't do well in the alkaline caliche clay that abounds there. Good luck to your neighbor. Thanks for your comment.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Dirty Fingernails said...

My neighbors Japanese Maple is just starting to turn color and it is gorgeous!!! These pics remind me I need to get myself and my camera over there and take myself a picture.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Gina said...

Lovely Ki, that's good growth in just 2 yrs. Our oldest JM is about 9yrs now and last year we collected some seeds! Going to try and germinate them soon - will let you know how it goes. :O)

1:21 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Dirty fingernails,
Would love to see photos of the tree. I hope you post photos of it soon. I have a number of other JMs but they don't show any signs of turning soon. Thanks for stopping by.

Hi Gina,
I bought several, well...many, small 1 year grafts during my Japanese Maple phase of collecting. ;) Some grew very rapidly and are as much as 6 feet tall now but some remain very small maybe only twice their original height in two years.

When we moved into the house, there was already a mature JM here that dropped many seeds. Some of the seeds would sprout every year but when we tried to transplant the seedlings all died save one. And though it seems to be healthy it looks more like a short bushy shrub rather than a tree. In 4 years it has grown to be no more than a foot tall. Two years ago a JM sprouted in a place where we needed a tree so we left it to grow and it did. It is now about 3 feet tall and seems to be doing quite well. The two seedlings are from the same parent so I wonder if transplanting the seedlings somehow damaged the small trees. I keep forgetting it's spring down under and thought it odd that you would try to germinate seeds now. ;) Good luck!

4:23 AM  
Blogger kate said...

Hi Ki,

Your 'Beni kawa' is so beautiful - I love the colours of the leaves as they turn. Your photographs of it are amazing, as always. Japanese maples are not grown here much - I don't think they survive without a fair bit of winter protection etc.

11:40 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kate,
Thank you for the very kind words. Unfortunately the Japanese maples are hardy within a fairly limited range; USDA zones 5-8 by some sources and 6-8 by others. I thought JMs would be much hardier because they're such tough trees, so I was surprised that they live in such a small range of temperatures. I remember you planted the black elderberry which was heavily advertised last year as a substitute for for Japanese maples. I hope the elderberry worked out well for you. Thanks for the comment.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Connie said...

Your Japanese maple is wonderful! Both the shape and form of the tree and the individual leaf shape and color are so pretty.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Ki, you are tempting me to give one a try in Austin. I had one in Illinois that was killed down to a couple of inches over and over until it gave up and died.

Maybe if I start with a very very small Japanese Maple it won't realize it's not supposed to live in Austin?

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

8:28 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Connie,
I bought the tree because I liked our other coral bark Japanese maple a Sango kaku so much. The Beni kawa is purported to have a brighter red than Sango kaku and it is but not by much. but it has turned out to be a lovely tree and the leaves turn much sooner than the Sango kaku so we have fall color much sooner and will overlap the time when the others start to turn. I like the coral bark maples so much, I have two of each ;) Thanks for your comment.


Hi Annie,
I would definitely give it a try, tempt, tempt, tempt. Especially since you don't have caliche clay in your yard. I bought almost all of my JMs from World Plants and highly recommend them. The price for many of their plants are still $15.00 for a 1 year graft. Take a look at Orange Dream which has yellow green leaves edged with orange. I would buy this tree but unfortunately I don't have any more room to plant trees. They are out of a lot of trees now but will have more next spring.

Illinois was probably pushing the hardiness zone for JMs. I think your idea about small young plant's/tree's ability to adjust to varied locations has great merit. I've found that many times, planting small plants seem to outgrow much larger more mature plants. Hey it's like humans eh. The young adjust to change much more readily than the elderly.

Good luck. Don't get bitten too hard by the Japanese maple bug.

BTW, I loved your haikus.

4:54 AM  
Blogger lisa said...

Nice maple! I'm here to report that I have 3 JM's surviving just fine in my zone 4 garden. They are small, like 1 foot or less, but pretty just the same. I think of them as "outdoor bonsai" fact, I may buy some dwarf conifers to plant nearby for an outdoor bonsai mini-landscape. I'm a murderer of indoor bonsai thus far, I think it's the pruned roots and shallow pots that seal their fate for me...too regimented a watering schedule for my spacey ways.

6:12 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Lisa,
Well there goes the USDA zone hardiness recommendation for that tree! I wonder who makes the determination of what sustained temps the plants can survive? They do have quite a few shrub type JMs so maybe that's what you have or perhaps the harsh winters have stunted the trees.

I'm afraid bonsai are a huge source of frustration unless you live a regulated life. I don't know how many I've killed because I forgot to water it or watered it too much.
It's also way too much manipulation of a natural thing for me. Too much like foot binding.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Kylee said...

Ki, wow, I'm so impressed with the growth rate of your JM! That's pretty fast! My 'Emperor I' has grown well, too.

'Beni Kawa' is gorgeous. I just love JMs and would have so many more of them if we had good sites to plant them, but the few we have are taken up by either JMs or other things that need a somewhat protected site.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kylee,
We bought 4 Emperor JMs too. Sam's had several of these 6-7' tall trees for $75 and they they were not selling so I waited and sure enough they went down to $50. That's a darned good price for that sized JMs but I thought they would have a closeout on them soon because they were starting to look a bit tired but they went up in price again. After about 3 more weeks they finally had the close out and sold them for $25 each. So I bought 4 but the trees have not done well. They barely produced any new leaves and they already look pretty bare. I'm hoping that the trees are using all their energy to establish a good root system and that's the reason for the lack of leaves but I hope that's the case for I would hate to loose them this winter.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Kylee said...

Oh, Ki, I hope they make it for you. What a great deal! Mulch them well, which I'm sure you will. I really worried about ours, because it was quite large when we got it (about 6 feet tall and a gift from my Grandma - it was $109!) and I worried it would have a harder time settling in, but it's done great. It was planted in the spring of last year.
I think the Emperors are pretty tough, as far as JMs go.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kylee,
Good to hear your tree is doing so well. I wish I had a nice Gramma like yours! I'm thinking I shouldn't have been so thrifty and bought the Emperor 1s earlier in the season. I've had very good luck with JMs though. Only one died out of more than 20 so I'm hoping the trees will do well despite the lack of leaf growth this year. so you have a picture of yours?

10:45 AM  

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