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Under the generic term Japanese maples the varieties of fan maple (Acer palmatum) and the Japanese maple (Acer japonicum), as well as the gold maple (Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum') are summarized. They are botanically closely related and are all from East Asia.
Although their flowers are rather unimpressive, the Japanese maples are among the most popular garden plants. No wonder, because almost all are suitable for small gardens and form a picturesque crown in old age. Their filigree leaves are very variable in shape and color, turn bright yellow orange to carmine red in autumn and often adorn themselves in the spring during the shoot with special shades.
Diversity of fan maples
The largest variety offers with its numerous garden forms the fan maple (Acer palmatum). The current varieties are characterized by a variety of shades, compact growth and beautiful autumn colors.
'Orange Dream' grows upright, grows to a height of about two meters in ten years, and has green-yellow leaves with crimson leaves on the shoot. In summer, the foliage assumes a light green hue and then turns orange in autumn.
'Shaina' is a new, protected dwarf variety with dense, bushy growth. It reaches a height of 1.50 meters after ten years and has deeply slotted leaves. The crimson bud clearly stands out in spring from the older branches with chestnut foliage. The autumn color is also crimson. 'Shaina' is also suitable for planting in the tub.
'Shirazz', named after the Australian grape variety, is a new strain from New Zealand. Their deeply slotted leaves show a unique play of colors: the young, green leaves have narrow, slightly pale pink to maroon leaves edges. Towards autumn, the entire foliage turns bright red like most Japanese maples. In ten years' time the plants will grow to a height of about two meters and form a picturesque branched crown.
'Wilson's Pink Dwarf' attracts attention in the spring with a leaf shoot in Flamingo pink. It is 1.40 meters high in ten years, is densely branched and has filigree foliage. The autumn color is yellow-orange to red. 'Wilson's Dwarf Pink' is also great for planting in the tub.
Slit Maple: Filigree foliage
The slotted maples, also cultivars of the fan maple, spread a special charm. They are green (Acer palmatum 'Dissectum') and dark red leaves (Dissectum Garnet). Noteworthy is their finely divided foliage, in addition they grow much slower than varieties with normal lobed leaves.
Since the shoots overhang arc-like, even old plants are hardly higher than two meters - but often twice as wide. Slender maples should not be hidden in the garden, otherwise they are easily overlooked as young plants. The plant treasures are close to the seats so you can admire their filigree foliage close up. Ideal is also a box seat on the bank of the pond or stream.
Green and red slot maple
Japan maple: One size bigger
Somewhat more robust and vigorous than the fan maples are the garden forms of the Japanese maple (Acer japonicum), which originates from the mountain forests of the Japanese islands. Their wide-spreading crowns can be five to six feet high and wide at the age. In the trade in Germany the varieties 'Aconitifolium' and -seltener - 'Vitifolium'.
The Japanese Maple ('Aconitifolium') differs from the wild species in the shape of its leaves, which are very reminiscent of those of the Eisenhut. The foliage that has been slit down to the leaf base discolors intense burgundy shortly before the leaf fall - one of the most beautiful autumn colors the assortment has to offer!
The vine-leafed Japanese maple ('Vitifolium') bears - as the name suggests - broad, vine leaves-like leaves. They are not slotted and run in eight to eleven short points. It also turns very beautiful in the fall and corresponds to the wild-type Japan Maple in growth form and size of the wild species as the Eisenhutblättrige.
In the past, the yellow-leaved gold maple (Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum') was also traded as a variety of Japanese maple. He has a much weaker, stocky growth and a bright yellow autumn color. In the meantime botanists have declared it an independent species.
In the garden, the fan maple with its red leaves is a great eye-catcher
The shrubs are very versatile and not only look good in Asian-designed gardens. The more vigorous species of the fan maple reach four to five meters in height at the age and then come with their umbrella-like crown in individual position at prominent places in the garden very well to advantage.Old specimens of the Japan maple are even suitable as picturesque shade trees for the seat.
Tip: Dreamlike garden pictures are created if you put together small groups of strong to weakly growing varieties with different foliage and autumn colors. Against an evergreen background, for example, a hedge of cherry laurel or yew, the colors develop a particularly great luminosity. Red-leaved maple varieties usually have a crimson autumn color, while the green-leafed forms in autumn usually take on a golden yellow to orange-red color.
Suitable planting partners for Japanese maples, in addition to bamboo, funerals, azaleas and other garden plants from Asia, are larger conifers and other deciduous trees with a beautiful autumn color. Great combinations are made for example with winter snowball (Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn') and flower dogwood (Cornus kousa var. Chinensis).