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Archive for the ‘Trees’ Category

Some plants I see and fall in love with instantly and want to get one…when reality sets I know this is impossible as I have no spot to put it. I will forget about the plant and later stumble on it in other places and remember all over again how beautiful it is. Such is the case with Styrax japonius(a) (Japanese Snowbell tree), its a tree which I keep stumbling on and see how wonderful it is.

The dainty scented white bells of Styrax japonicus coat the undersides of this small tree.

The dainty scented white bells of Styrax japonicus coat the undersides of this small tree.

Styrax  is a genus of 130 species of which only a few come areas other than the tropics and several are used in garden. Styrax japonicus is the most well-known of the ornamental plants. Some tropical Styrax species are also known for giving us benzoin resin which is exuded from piercing the bark and collecting the dried substance. The resin has been used since antiquity in perfumes, incense and medicines(tincture of Benzoin).

The Japanese Snowbell is a small layered tree with elegant leaves and flowers

The Japanese Snowbell is a small layered tree with elegant leaves and flowers.

Styrax japonicus come from a fairly wide area of Asia from Korea into China and Japan. Japanese Snowbell was first described by Seibold and then re-introduced by Richard Oldham(1834-1862) in 1862 from Japan. He was employed by the Royal Botanical Gardens(Kew) and was sent to collect plants in Asia in 1861. He first collected around Nagasaki and Yokohama  (1862-3) and later in China where he died at the age of 27. He introduced no new species but his extensive herbarium collections were studied at Kew and in Leiden Germany.

Styrax japonicus 'Rosea' has the lightest pink tinge at the base of the flowers.

Styrax japonicus 'Rosea' has the lightest pink tinge at the base of the flowers.

When Japanese Snowbell was introduced the public in the 1860s it must have made an impact on gardeners and other esteemed people as it was quickly awarded a First Class Certificate (FCC) in 1885 by The Royal Horticultural Society. In  1984 it was given another award by the same group  an AGM (Award of Merit).  These awards are made from recommendation  by a committee to the RHS council and are similar to judgements made at exhibits (based on samples, branches or plants which are viewed on one day).

Styrax japonicus are very late to color up in autumn and when they do we are rewarded with buttery yellows which fade to light browns.ngyro

Styrax japonicus are very late to color up in autumn and when they do we are rewarded with buttery yellows which fade to light reds.

Japanese Snowbell are small trees which have layered branch structures. They are often nearly as wide as they are tall. When they are in bloom the flowers coat the undersides of the tree with small drooping white bells which have a pleasing light perfume. It is best to locate these trees where they are on a slight incline so it is easy to view the flowers in bloom. The fruit produces are small drupes which look like tiny nuts and are dainty.

Tiny egg-shaped drupes are the fruit produced by Styrax  japonicus.

Tiny egg-shaped drupes are the fruit produced by Styrax japonicus.

Japanese Snowbell trees grow 6-9 m 20-30 ft.) tall and nearly as wide. They grow in full sun to dappled locations and even fairly dark areas. Like many small trees in its native habitat it is often found as an understory plant growing amoungst larger trees. It likes well-drained rich soil which is slightly acidic.These trees are surprisingly hardy and are rated as zone 5 -29 c. (-20 f.).

Styrax japonicus (Japanese Snowbell) are perfect small specimen trees for urban gardens.

Styrax japonicus (Japanese Snowbell) are perfect small specimen trees for urban gardens.

Styrax japonicus can be used in a variety of ways, they are ideal for as small specimen trees, for small urban lots, patio plantings and in small groups. They are also well-known as bonsai subjects.  There are several named forms worth looking into. ‘Emerald Pagoda is a selection which is more robust with bigger flowers and leaves. ‘Pink Chimes’ has better, more pronounced color which does not fade out in heat. ‘Carillon’ is a weeping form which is said to be the same as ‘Pendula’. ‘Angryo Dwarf’ is as the name say an even shorter form. It is up to you what one you feel is the best for your situation…I have always been a sucker for pure white flowers!

A Flury  of links:

The many Styrax species:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Styrax

Other peoples experience with this tree:http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/59761/#b

Virginia Tech has a concise page on the tree:http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=322

Richard Oldham:http://www.kew.org/news/kew-blogs/library-art-archives/richard-oldham-last-botanical-collector.htm

………..Follow me on an adventure around the plant world…………

 

 

 

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Sometimes I have to come back to review a plant and sometimes I like to look more closely at a group of plants. It is often the case that i have found another member of group whether it is a hybrid or completely new species. In this case it is because I see more of the species that I am seeing planted, which is a very good thing. I am particularly taken by the Hamamelis species which is one of the first plants I learned when I first went to Horticulture classes many years ago and was the very first plant I wrote about in this blog. Today I wish to look at Hamamelis x intermedia  ‘Pallida’ and ‘Arnold Promise’, 2 of the best yellow forms of  Witch Hazel around.

 On the upper right is Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise', on the lower left is H x i. 'Pallida' and in the backgorund is parent Hamamelis mollis.

On the upper right is Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise', on the lower left is H x i. 'Pallida' and in the background is parent Hamamelis mollis.

The group Hamamelis x intermedia is a natural crossing of the Chinese (mollis) and Japanese (japonica) species. In named forms this has happened far from where they might meet in the wild, usually in plant collections. In the case of Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ it is likely to have occurred at Kalmthout which was a nursery in Holland where the seed came from. The seed was germinated and the seedlings were grown for some years and carefully watched. Different color variations were seen and named around 1932. The original plant still is located at Battleston Hill in Wisley and must be quite a slight at this time of year. Hamamalis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ has a pale yellow color and a pleasing cirtusy-spice scent.

Finnerty Gardens has several Hamamelis x intermedia including this group located near the main enterance naer the chapel.

Finnerty Gardens has several Hamamelis x intermedia including this group located near the main entrance near the chapel.

The specimens of Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ I have seen flower extremely well and have large flowers which show up well in the dark background the often grey skies and evergreen trees here.

 Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida' flowers are beautifully colored and delacately scented on this cool sunny day.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida' flowers are beautifully colored and delicately scented on this cool sunny day.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’ is another chance cross which occurred at the famous Arnold Arboretum near Boston, Massachusetts  William Judd, propagator of Arnold Arboretum collected seed from a Japanese Witch Hazel which was at the arboretum and germinated in around 1928. He assumed at the time it would be  pure Hamamelis japonica plants. Later it was realized that the seedlings were in fact a cross between a mollis plant which was nearby and the japonica. The original seedlings were grown on for a number of years until they started to flowers and selections were made. Several plants were named and ‘Arnold Promise’ was named and proved to be the best of the bunch. In 1963 the plant was released by the Arboretum for sale to nurseries.

 This Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise' is perfectly placed at Finnerty Gardens to draw your eyes to the end of the path where it intersects with another.

This Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise' is perfectly placed at Finnerty Gardens to draw your eyes to the end of the path where it intersects with another.

Arnold Promise Witch Hazel has a slightly darker flower than ‘Pallida’. The main difference which I see in the 2 plants is the way they grow with ‘Pallida seeming to be more horizontal  branches and Arnold Promise having a more vase shaped ascending branch pattern. On the day I photographed both of these plants it was cool and crisp with a good wind and the scent of the flowers was not strong.

 

 Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise' has a delicate coloring and scent and is beautiful in this deep winter month.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise' has a delicate coloring and scent and is beautiful in this deep winter month.

Both ‘Arnold Promise’ and ‘Pallida’  are becoming more popular as are all the Witch Hazels. These are wonderful and adaptable plants which can be used in a variety of ways to increase the pleasure of your garden. As mentioned they are fragrant, on warm days there is no more pleasing aroma I know of to encounter, the citrus-spice scent is warm and inviting. The foliage is attractive and similar to that of Corylus (Hazelnut) with broad green leaves which turn shades of butter to gold and tints of peach in autumn. The seed pods are also interesting on the bare branches during the early winter.

 

The attractive leaves and seed pods of Hamamelis.

The attractive leaves and seed pods of Hamamelis.

All Hamamelis species are woodland plants and like to have rich humus well-drained soil. they need deep watering to promote a good widespread deep root system to  help sustain them during drier times. They prefer a dappled location which offers some protection from strong summer sun. These plants have low widespread branches and should be carefully placed so little pruning is needed.  These 2 hybrids grow to the same size 4m(13ft.) heigh by the same wide. All named varieties are grafted or budded onto usually less attractive species plants and suckering from under the graft should be removed when seen.   Both of these hybrids are rated at tolerating temperatures down to -25c (-13 f.) or zones 5 through 9. These are pest and disease plants which are long-lived and will give you a lifetime of enjoyment.

Pallida or Arnold Promise, What will it be:

Hamamelis x intermedia hybrids: http://www.frenchgardening.com/inprofile.html?pid=309505181913723

Arnold Arboretum’s article about ‘Arnold Promise’ (Pdf): http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/842.pdf

RHS page on ‘Pallida’: http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens/Wisley/About-Wisley/Plant-of-the-month/January/Hamamelis-x-intermedia–Pallida-

……..Hope to see you soon on a bright cheery path near here……..

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Often when we see a plant for the first time we do not have a chance to see what it would look like in the wild of its full potential. This is particularly true for very large species such as trees which we often we see mangled to fit into too small urban areas. One tree I see which is often treated this way is Cedrus deodara (Deodar Cedar), it is a wonderful plant for the right place.

One of the many majestic Deodar Cedars found in Beacon Hill Park.

One of the many majestic Deodar Cedars found in Beacon Hill Park.

Deodar Cedar has been used in many ways for a very long time this is partly because it comes from an area of very old civilization.  It is found in an area of asia which is from south-west Tibet traveling west through western Nepal,  north-central India, northern Pakistan and into the corner of Afghanistan. Over time these trees have been logged out from many of their former areas and are now rare. In its native area it grows at high altitudes of 1500 to 3000 m(5000-9800 ft.).

The large cones which sit up-right are just one of the attractive features of Cedrus deodara

The large cones which sit up-right are just one of the attractive features of Cedrus deodara

Himalayan Cedars were and are logged for their beautiful wood which has been in demand for many centuries. the wood has a fine, close grain and takes a high polish as well as being rot-resistant and durable. It has been used for building temples, houses and other buildings, ships and boats, bridges and furniture. The trees have been used for landscaping since ancient times.

This Cedrus deodara is found next to the driveway exit at Government House.

This Cedrus deodara is found next to the driveway exit at Government House.

Cedrus deodara is know as ‘the tree of the gods’  in Sanskrit which is where part of its botanical latin name originates. Deodara comes from Sanskrit ‘devadaru’ deva= god and daru meaning wood. Cedrus originally come from the ancient Greek ‘kedros’ which was the orginal name for the Juniperus species. The Cedrus genus is made up of 4 closely related species which are found in the Mediterranean area and Asia.  the common name of Cedar when it is used here in North America usually refers to a Thuja, Chamaecyparis or Juniperus.

The attractive bark of Cedrus deodara is seen in this multi-trunked tree.

The attractive bark of Cedrus deodara is seen in this multi-trunked tree.

The Deodar Cedar is the national tree of Pakistan. In the Hindu religion Deodars are worshiped as divine trees and are referred to in several of their legends. In ancient times forests of these trees where the favored places for Indian sages to meditate in. The tree also plays an important role in  Ayurvedic system of traditional medicine of India. The bark and oils which are extracted from the inner wood are still used. The bark and twigs are powdered and used as a powerful astringent while the distilled oils are used in aromatherapy and as an antiseptic.

The wonderful golden plumed Cedrus deodara 'Aurea' has stunning color and is found in Hollywood Park which is between Fairfield Rd. and Earle St.

The wonderful golden plumed Cedrus deodara 'Aurea' has stunning color and is found in Hollywood Park which is between Fairfield Rd. and Earle St.

The Deodar Cedar can have a slightly whimsical feel about it when it is young with the tips of its bows drooping, but don’t be fooled this will become a magnificent tree. These are trees for large areas with full sun, the exception is with golden and cream-colored trees which need protection in areas with extreme heat and sun. They are easy to grow and will take most soils as long as it drains well. These trees grow very fast when young and can attain heights of over 9 m. (30ft.) within 10 years. It will eventually grow to be about 24 m.(80 ft.) high and 13 m.(40 ft.) wide. These trees are specimens and are best featured in parks, estates and large properties, the largest one I have ever seen was at the Kyoto Botanical Garden and probably was at least 100 years old. Here in Victoria we see quite a few of that age such as the ones that the Herons perch on in Good Acre Lake in Beacon Hill Park.

This Deodar Cedar in Good Acre Lake is favorite Heron perch found in Beacon Hill Park.

This Deodar Cedar in Good Acre Lake is favorite Heron perch found in Beacon Hill Park.

There are many cultivars of Cedrus deodara which you can choose from, they range from full-sized to miniature and colors from creamy through chartreuse into greens and blue tinged foliage.  There are also weeping forms. All the cultivars are grafted and can be expensive especially for larger ones. Research what you might want to grow first before you buy as it is a life-time commitment when owning a tree. Take care when selecting color and choose that which is the most vibrant and healthy looking . These trees are from temperate areas and like it that way. They are rated as for zones 6 and above or -20c. (-10f.).

On the trek for Deodars:

Wiki site on Deodars’: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedrus_deodara

Virginia Tech has good pictures of the various parts of the tree: http://www.cnr.vt.edu/dendro/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=456

Medicinal uses of Deodar Cedar in medicine: http://www.iloveindia.com/indian-herbs/cedrus-deodara.html

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When I was a child we would go to the Vancouver area once a year to visit my grand parents and other relatives. It was a big trip and took a full day of driving to reach our destination. Usually we would take at least one trip into the big city, we would go to the big stores which do not exist in a far away little town like we were growing up in. Another thing we often did was to visit Stanley Park for the day to visit the zoo and have a picnic. One thing we looked forward to was seeing the Monkey Puzzle Trees (Araucaria araucana) which were the most exotic and bizarre we had ever seen.

A large mature male Araucaria araucana or Monkey Puzzle tree found across from Beacon Hill Park in Victoria.

A large mature male Araucaria araucana or Monkey Puzzle tree found across from Beacon Hill Park in Victoria.

The Monkey Puzzle tree was a puzzle from the beginning. It is tree which is very ancient and fossil records of it date back over 200 million years.  The trees at that time were found in a larger area from Brazil to the Antarctic but new research is suggesting the area might have been much larger and include parts of Europe and even England.  Now they are found in a much smaller area of south-central Chile and west-central Argentina. It grows on the lower slopes of the Andes Mountains at around 1000 m. (3300 ft.) elevation. This is an area which can have heavy snowfall during its winter. The tree is now designated as the national tree of Chile and is protected as its unique forests are now threatened by logging and expansion of population into the area it grows.

This Monkey Puzzle tree dates back at least to the early part of the 20th century in the most Victorian of city of Canada.

This Monkey Puzzle tree dates back at least to the early part of the 20th century in the most Victorian of city of Canada.

Araucaria araucana was first described by Chilean Jesuit priest  Juan Ignacio Molina(1740-1829) in 1782 in his book ‘Saggio sulla Storia Naturale del Chili’ a book about the natural history of Chile and many of its species. He thought Araucaria araucana  was a form of Pine (Pinus) as he was remembering the tree he had not seen since he was last in Chile in 1768.  At the time he was writing his book he was a Professor of Natural Sciences in Bologna Italy.

This a young Monkey Puzzle tree which is one of several found in Beacon Hill Park.

This a young Monkey Puzzle tree which is one of several found in Beacon Hill Park.

Archibald Menzies collected the Araucaria araucana seeds from a dinner he was having in Valparaiso  Chile to bring back to England in 1792.  The seeds he collected germinated on the way back to England were planted when they arrived in Southern England which has the mildest climate of the country. William Lobb the plant collector was later ordered to collect more seed in the 1840s for Veitchs Nursery which he worked for. The new and wildly unusual tree became a hit with the Victorian public and the trees were much planted from the 1850s. It has gone into and out of fashion over time with another period of craze occurring during the 1920s and 30s.

Male flowers cones on the left and females on the right are found on separate Monkey Puzzle trees.

Male flowers cones on the left and females on the right are found on separate Monkey Puzzle trees.

The name Monkey Puzzle tree seems to come from the Victorian era around 1850 when one of the first trees was on display. Someone was reported to have said ‘it would puzzle a monkey how to climb it’. The name has stuck to it ever since. The sprialling over-lapping  specialized leaf scales which cover the stems and young trunk are thick and somewhat fierce. I also like the french name for the tree ‘Monkey’s Despair’ or ‘Desespoir des Singes’.

The thick over-lapping scale-like leaves protect the stems and help give the Monkey Puzzle tree its name.

The thick over-lapping scale-like leaves protect the stems and help give the Monkey Puzzle tree its name.

The botanical latin name Araucaria araucana refers to the people who live where these trees grow. Mapuche(Araucanians) live in the Andres and the tree was an important source of food and the wood was valued for its long straight trunk. The trees have been protected since 1971 from harvest for wood.  It was also sacred to some members of the people.

This young Monkey Puzzle tree is at University of Victoria campus is a male.

This young Monkey Puzzle tree is at University of Victoria campus is a male.

The Monkey Puzzle tree is much-loved by children because it looks so bizarre and un tree-like. If you want to grow one of the trees there are a few things to learn. They are slow-growing and will take some time to not look ungainly and sparse. Choose a small plant as they do not like to be moved and this will often cause their death therefore be sure of where you are going to place it. They like well-drained moist soil in a site which is naturally humid, an area close to the ocean or a large body of water would be great. They need full sun but tolerate some shade such as deciduous trees might give.  They dislike pollution and are best situated where there is some wind to move the air along. They are fairly wind and snow tolerant and are rated at zone 8 or – 12 c.(10 f.) although they can take short periods of colder temperatures.

 

The bark of Araucaria araucana will over time lose the scale-like leaves and develop shallow horizontal ridges.

The bark of Araucaria araucana will over time lose the scale-like leaves and develop shallow horizontal ridges.

To help you un-puzzling this tree:

The naming of the tree: http://www.suite101.com/content/the-amazing-monkey-puzzle-tree-a230510

Check this short book, it’s all about the Monkey Puzzle tree:

http://books.google.ca/books?id=v2Mef2bI1UwC&printsec=frontcover&dq=monkey+puzzle&hl=en&ei=hgUFTdPvCZTAsAPJn-TlDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAQ

How to grow the trees from seed or cuttings: http://www.victorialodging.com/monkey-tree/tips

…….Hope you return for more exciting adventures in plants soon…..

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The cold has set in. Change is beginning to be noticed in some plants which take on different hues and tones during the colder months. Most noticeable is the change in some conifers which take on bronzy tints. Other plants also get tinged leaves often with richer coloring. Some bark of trees even becomes more distinct in coloring. One tree which is a standout (literally) is the Coral Bark Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku‘). The already coral-red coloring of the bark deepens in tone and stands out from all other trees.

This Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' also known as the Coral Bark Maple is at Government House.

This Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' also known as the Coral Bark Maple is at Government House.


Most people know the Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) which is almost over used in many places. It was first described by Carl Peter Thunberg, he brought drawing of the tree back from Japan where he was stationed during the period of 1775-76.  It was Thunberg who named the small tree using ‘palmatum’ to describe the small leaves as ‘hand-like’.
The small baby hand-shaped leaves of Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku'

The small baby hand-shaped leaves of Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku'


The ‘hand-like description is very similar to the Japanese name for Maple leaves ‘kaede’.   Kaede refers to the  leaves resembling small (baby) hands or (kaeru)frog +(de) hands. Momiji(momizu)  is also used as meaning  Maples but more correctlyrefers to the leaves turning red in autumn as Maples usually do. The first live Acer palmatum arrived in England in 1820 and since that time the trees have remained popular.

The Coral Bark Maple goes through an incredible range of color changes beginning in spring with buttery yellow tones which have a lively effect.
The Coral Bark Maple goes through an incredible range of color changes beginning in spring with buttery yellow tones which have a lively effect.

Japanese Maples where a highly developed plant by the time they were brought to Europe. In Japan the first place these trees were known to be written about was in ‘Kadan Chikinsho’ (by San Nojo Hanado), a 6 volume work on the ornamental trees and shrubs of Japan published in 1685. Later there was revisions to the  book and a complete volume was given over to Acer palmatum and its known forms. Breeding and specialization of plants really took of during the ‘Edo period (1603-1867) in  Japan, at that time there were even cults devoted to certain plants. In 1770 there were 36 named varieties and by 1882 the list had grown to include about 250 varieties. It is not known how old Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaki’ is.  Some of old varieties have been lost during the 2nd World War as the trees were cut down and used as fuel.  Since the 1960s there has been a resurgence of interest in the trees and hundreds of new varieties have been collected from Japan and around the world where these trees are collected and propagated.

Summer sees Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' transforming from golden to mid green.

Summer sees Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' transforming from golden to mid green.


There is some confusion with the naming of the Coral Bark Maple: its correct name is Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku‘.  In the past it been listed as  ‘Senkaki’ which is wrong, there is no known plant by that name. Now there is a problem in getting a true ‘Sango Kaki’ as some trees which are sold with this name are likely to be selected seedlings of the same parent. All named Japanese Maples are propagated by cuttings which are then grafted onto a more vigorous understock. This is a slow and expensive process, therefore you need to select your plant from a reputable grower and be suspicious of unusually cheap plant offerings. the best time to buy a plant is in the fall when you can inspect the bark coloring and select the deepest coloring.
The red coloring of Acer palmatun 'Sango Kaku' intensifies in the cold winter weather.

The red coloring of Acer palmatun 'Sango Kaku'' intensifies in the cold winter weather.


Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaki’ like all Japanese Maple is a fairly easy plant to grow. It  likes fertile, slightly acid well-drained soil. They like to be kept evenly watered at all times, changes in watering can damage the plant. They like full sun here in the north-west but need shade in areas with more intense light. All Japanese Maples should be protected from drying winds regardless if they be in the summer or winter, their leaves and bark are thin and damaged easily. Best siting for this plant will take advantage of the tree coloring throughout the year, colors in the background should be chosen to make the tree stand out more.  These trees like  As mentioned selection of the plant takes some care, at that time make sure the roots are in good condition. The roots are fine and these trees are best bought in a container.
As the branches get older the coral coloring of Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' blends in with older bark.

As the branches get older the coral coloring of Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' blends in with older bark.


All Acer palmatum make excellent container subjects, I have several which are growing in large pots for many years. The Coral Bark Maple should be used as a specimen as it has wonderful coloring throughout the year. These trees also look wonderful in dark borders or with other plants which will highlight the red bark of this plant.  This plant grows to about 4.5-6 m. (15-20 ft). It has a narrower vase shape and has a spread of maybe 1/3 less than height or 2.5-5 m.(10-15 ft.). It has a hardiness rating of zones 6 though 9 or -20 c.(-10 f.).
Autumn brings the return of the buttery yellow and ambers often edged with crimson to the Coral Bark Maple.

Autumn brings the return of the buttery yellow and amber often edged with crimson to the Coral Bark Maple.


Crimson tidings lead us to:

Rainyside speaks to us: http://www.rainyside.com/features/plant_gallery/shrubs/AcerSango-kaku.html

Wiki on Acer palmatum: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acer_palmatum

‘Sango-Kaku’ vs other similar and incorrectly named trees: http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/forums/showthread.php?t=394

……Hope to see you soon again here….

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There was a big wind storm last week, it finally blew the remaining leaves off the trees. This time of year when it becomes cold and sunny I like to walk in the parks and along the streets and enjoy the bare trees and their forms. It reminds me of when I was in school learning about the trees and shrubs commonly grown here. I gained a new appreciation of the bark and buds and the variation that there is. One of my new favorite trees has long sharp buds and smooth grey bark which is seen as perfect to carve your initials in. The Common or Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica) is the tree I am referring to and long may they live.

 This large purple form Copper Beech was probably planted when this house in James Bay was built in the early 20th century.

This large purple form Copper Beech was probably planted when this house in James Bay was built in the early 20th century.

Fagus sylvatica are a European tree and are found growing in most areas from southern Sweden south to central Italy, west into France and northern Portugal and Spain. In the east they are found in  north-west Turkey where they meet out with Fagus orientalis the Asian representative of the species which they hybridise with. It is interesting that in England where Beech Trees are most often associated with, it is one of the later places that they naturalized in reaching there after the last ice age. We are not sure how they got there but it is possible that came with early people who may have brought the seeds as a form of food which was highly nutritious and transportable.

 This green Fagus sylvatica tree will produce a fine crop of beechnuts which were at one time eaten as emergency food.

This green Fagus sylvatica tree will produce a fine crop of beechnuts which were at one time eaten as emergency food.

Common Beech trees have provided many sources of useful goods over the years. Very early on the bark was used to carve runes. The wood is brittle and has short grains and is not strong or durable. It is more used for handles, small articles, turnery, parquet flooring and Bentwood furniture. Charcoal made from the branches was used for coloring and gunpowder production. The wood is considered one of the best for burning as fuel as it gives one of the highest volumes of heat.

 The fine smooth bark of the Beech tree has always been carved on, you can find this example at St Ann's Academy.

The fine smooth bark of the Beech tree has always been carved on, you can find this example at St Ann's Academy.

The seeds of Copper Beech have been used for emergency food in the past and processed into flour. Eating large amounts can be slightly toxic due to the tannins found in the seeds. Mostly the nuts have been used for feeding woodland animals and pigs, chicken and turkey for commercial use. High quantities of oil can be extracted from well-ripened nuts(17-20%) and was used for food and heating in the 19th century. Mainly the use of trees now is ornamental now.

 This fine trio of Beech trees are found in Beacon Hill Park near Blanchard and Southgate streets.

This fine trio of Beech trees are found in Beacon Hill Park near Blanchard and Southgate streets.

Now we associate the Copper Beech with large estates and parks and institutions which have the space and maybe are old enough to have large specimens of these trees.  When in the open and not competing for sun the become truly huge trees which have many delicate aspects to them. The leaves are small, thin, fine, glossy smooth and at all times of the year are beautiful to look at. They have brilliant color when emerging from their tight sharp pointy buds in the spring and later in autumn turn golden and coppery. In winter the leaves of young trees may stay on the tree and protect it, their coppery color is an unusual site as well as sound in the wind. The branches are also fine and thin giving the tree an overall delicate feeling.

 The fine, thin, pointy-sharp buds are a distinct feature of Fagus sylvatica.

The fine, thin, pointy-sharp buds are a distinct feature of Fagus sylvatica.


The Copper Beech makes a fine tree for a larger property or garden. The like to grow in an area with good humidity or some precipitation throughout the year. They like well-drained soil which is slightly on the acidic side but will tolerate chalky soil as long as it is not clay heavy. Beech grow their best and reach their full potential in a site which gives them full sun. The roots are shallow and help keep the soil around them more fertile by absorbing large amounts of potash which is stored in the leaves of the tree.

 There are many fine forms of Beech including this rare golden leaved Fagus sylvatica 'Zlatia' is found where Begbie and Pandora streets meet in Victoria.

There are many fine forms of Beech including this rare golden leaved Fagus sylvatica 'Zlatia' is found where Begbie and Pandora streets meet in Victoria.

Common Beech grow to be massive trees over many years and can reach 43m(140ft) high by 40m(130ft) wide. They are rated as slow growers but like most trees grow faster when very young.  They are quite cold hardy and are rated as zone 5 or tolerating 25c(-20f) with some cultivars being slightly more tender.

 Many fine forms of Fagus sylvatica have been selected including 'Dwyck' which comes in green, gold and purple.

Many fine forms of Fagus sylvatica have been selected including 'Dwyck' which comes in green, gold and purple.

As Fagus sylvatica have been grown since ancient times many fine forms are available for enjoyment in your garden. You can choose from color forms of green, golden, purple, rosy and even variegated. Their several narrow forms which are much used as street trees. Weeping forms are often seen as specimens and come in very spectacular in the right setting.  There are also interesting leaf forms such as ‘Asplenifolia’ or ‘Rotundifolia’ and the ‘heterophylla’ group. These trees are usually used as specimens or accents, the make excellent park and street trees as they have few pests or disease and are long-lived. Named varieties of Beech trees are usually grown from cuttings that are grafted. You can also grow them from seed which can be collected and stratified at home.

 These leaves are from Fagus sylvatica 'Heterophylla' and the male flowers are seen blooming.

These leaves are from Fagus sylvatica 'Heterophylla' and the male flowers are seen blooming.

 

finding the Fine Fagus:

Check Wiki first: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fagus_sylvatica

Next find out about the myths and lore: http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=104751

 

 

 

 

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Autumn is known for its wonderful colors, the yellows, oranges reds and maroons add a bright splash of excitement to the coming winter season. I enjoy the many native trees in the area with their amber shades. One somewhat rare tree which should become much more widely grown is  the Paperbark Maple(Acer griseum) which has bright buttery yellow to crimson coloring. It is one of the best small specimen trees for a typical urban setting.

 

Autumn color of the Paperbark Maple some of the latest in the year for the Maple family.

Autumn color of the Paperbark Maple some of the latest in the year for the Maple family.

The year was 1901 Paperbark Maple was introduced to Europe by way of Vietch’s Nursery.  Acer griseum is another fabulous find by Ernest (Chinese) Henry Wilson. He was on one of his many explorations for plants in China looking for the famous handkerchief tree(Davidia involucrata) which was known but not collected at that time. The area he was exploring was central China.

 

 I can imagine Ernest 'Chinese' Wilson finding Acer griseum in the forest looking like this, bark glowing in the light.

I can imagine Ernest 'Chinese' Wilson finding Acer griseum in the forest looking like this, bark glowing in the light.

 

Paperbark Maples come from central China from north-east Gansu  province traveling west into Hebei and south to Sichuan and south-west into Hunan.  The tree is found at fairly high altitudes of 1500-2000 m. (5000-6500ft.). It is one of the better but not the most famous find of the over 1500 named plants which ‘Chinese ‘ Wilson brought to horticulture during his incredible explorations.

 

The peeling 'paperbark' of Acer griseum is very beautiful throughout the year.

The peeling 'paperbark' of Acer griseum is very beautiful throughout the year.

 

Acer griseum does not have the typical ‘maple’ shaped leaves, instead it is trifoliate. This gives it a delicate feeling as the foliage looks fine in texture. Many people are not familiar with the other leaf forms of  Maples. One similar leaved maple is the Box Elder(Acer negundo) which is extremely hardy and produces masses of seedlings making it become somewhat of a pest in many places.

 

 The delicate looking trifoliate leaves of Acer griseum come to life in flaming fashion in the fall.

The delicate looking trifoliate leaves of Acer griseum come to life in flaming fashion in the fall.

Acer griseum is an excellent small tree for the home and should be seen more often. One issue that has become known is the difficulty germinating the seed which is said to be between 2 and 8%. It produces a good amount of  seed but most of it has proven to be parthenocarpic. Parthenocarpic is seed which developes but is sterile. THere are now plans to make new collections of wild seed to increase the gene pool of this tree and increase the likelihood of better seed viability. Another issue is that these trees are androecious with males and hermaphrodite flower structures.

 

 

Acer griseum produces a great amount of seed but little of it is viable.

Acer griseum produces a great amount of seed but little of it is viable.

 

Acer griseum has many feature which lead it be seen as a specimen tree. It is attractive throughout the year; spring gives us delicate blooms and the flush of new leaves, summer is seen with the delicate green-blue of the leaves, autumn highlight the brilliant color late in the season and winter comes when the bark is highlighted especially with backlighting. The size of the tree is also especially appealing and works well in most garden situations whether they be in a border or by itself.

 

This wintery Acer griseum is found in Finnerty Gardens along a less traveled path where the bark is highlighted.

This wintery Acer griseum is found in Finnerty Gardens along a less traveled path where the bark is highlighted.

Acer griseum grow in full sun to part shade but not deep shade. They like fertile acidic soil which is well-drained. They need average amounts of waster and are not noted to be drought tolerant. They have few pests or disease. They can be pruned but it is rarely done except for  shaping or removal of damaged limbs and this is best done in late autumn or winter. They are slow-growing trees which can grow to 10-20 m (30-60ft). They are fairly hardy and are rated taking -20c(-4f) and higher.  Paperbark Maples are easily transplanted.

 

This Acer griseum is in the back yard of a garden in Vancouver.

This Acer griseum is in the back yard of a garden in Vancouver.

 

Paperbark Maples are propagated by cuttings or by seed and are somewhat rare in nurseries. They are becoming much sought after by good landscapers and gardens are more expensive to buy than many other trees. It is a tree I recommend for the small city gardens as a specimen or accent tree.

Marveling at this Maple:

An excellent technical description of the tree: https://appserver1.kwantlen.ca/apps/plantid/plantid.nsf/lookup/2C6CC1B288E3831088256EB500662648?OpenDocument

Parenthocarpy in seeds: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parthenocarpy

Ernest Henry Wilson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Henry_Wilson

……I will be looking forward to seeing you again soon here…..

 

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