From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
, called Japanese Maple
or Smooth Japanese Maple
) is a species of woody plant native to Japan, North Korea, South Korea, China, eastern Mongolia, and southeast Russia. Many different cultivars of this maple have been selected and they are grown worldwide for their attractive leaf shapes and colours. They are highly sought after and are relatively costly trees given their size.
is a deciduous shrub or small tree reaching heights of 6 to 10 m (20 to 33 ft), rarely 16 metres (52 ft), often growing as an understory plant in shady woodlands. It may have multiple trunks joining close to the ground. In habit, it is often shaped like a hemisphere (especially when younger) or takes on a dome-like form, especially when mature. The leaves are 4–12 cm long and wide, palmately lobed with five, seven, or nine acutely pointed lobes. The flowers are produced in small cymes, the individual flowers with five red or purple sepals and five whitish petals. The fruit is a pair of winged samaras, each samara 2–3 cm long with a 6–8 mm seed. The seeds of Japanese maple and similar species require stratification in order to germinate.
Even in nature, Acer palmatum
displays considerable genetic variation, with seedlings from the same parent tree typically showing differences in such traits as leaf size, shape, and colour.
Three subspecies are recognised:
Cultivation and uses
Acer palmatum subsp. palmatum. Leaves small, 4–7 cm wide, with five or seven lobes and double-serrate margins; seed wings 10–15 mm. Lower altitudes throughout central and southern Japan (not Hokkaido).
Acer palmatum subsp. amoenum (Carrière) H.Hara. Leaves larger, 6–12 cm wide, with seven or nine lobes and single-serrate margins; seed wings 20–25 mm. Higher altitudes throughout Japan and South Korea.
Acer palmatum subsp. matsumurae Koidz. Leaves larger, 6–12 cm wide, with seven (rarely five or nine) lobes and double-serrate margins; seed wings 15–25 mm. Higher altitudes throughout Japan.
Japanese Maple has been cultivated in Japan for centuries and in temperate areas around the world since the 1800s. The first specimen of the tree reached England in 1820.
When Swedish doctor-botanist Carl Peter Thunberg traveled in Japan late in the eighteenth century, he secreted out drawings of a small tree that would eventually become synonymous with the high art of oriental gardens. He gave it the species name palmatum
after the hand-like shape of its leaves, similar to the centuries old Japanese names kaede
, references to the 'hands' of frogs and babies, respectively.
For centuries Japanese horticulturalists have developed cultivars from maples found in Japan and nearby Korea and China. They are a popular choice for bonsai enthusiasts and have long been a subject in art.
Numerous cultivars are currently available commercially and are a popular item at garden centres and other retail stores in Europe and North America. Red-leafed cultivars are the most popular, followed by cascading green shrubs with deeply dissected leaves.
Preparations from the branches and leaves are used as a treatment in traditional Chinese medicine.
includes hundreds of named cultivars with countless forms, colours, leaf types, sizes, and preferred growing conditions. Heights of mature specimens can range from 0.5 m to 25 m, depending on type. Some tolerate sun, and others like shade. Almost all are adaptable and blend well with companion plants. The trees are particularly suitable for borders and ornamental paths because the root systems are compact and not invasive. Well drained soil is preferred, and the trees grow strongest when they are not over-fertilized. Many varieties of Acer palmatum
are successfully grown in containers.
If space is not a constraint, no pruning is necessary except to remove any dead branches. Some growers prefer to shape their trees artistically or to thin out interior branches to better expose the graceful main branches, especially in winter.
Over 1,000 cultivars have been chosen for particular characteristics, which are typically propagated by asexual reproduction such as cuttings, tissue culture, budding or grafting. Some of these are not in cultivation in the Western world or have been lost over the generations, but many new cultivars are developed each decade. Cultivars are chosen for phenotypical aspects such as leaf shape and size (shallowly to deeply lobed, some also palmately compound), leaf colour (ranging from chartreuse through dark green or from red to dark purple, others variegated with various patterns of white and pink), bark texture and colour, and growth pattern. Some cultivars are sturdy trees that are larger and more hardy or vigorous than is typical of the species. Many are shrubs rarely reaching over 0.5 m in height. A few very delicate cultivars are grown in pots and rarely reach heights of over 30 cm. Some of the more distorted or dwarfed cultivars are grown from witch's brooms, but more are based upon clippings taken from plants that are mutated and/or have been artificially selected over many generations.
In Japan, iromomiji
is used as an accent tree in Japanese gardens, providing gentle shade next to the house in the summer and beautiful colours in fall. Many cultivars have characteristics that come into prominence during different seasons, including the colour of new or mature leaves, extraordinary fall colour, colour and shape of samaras, or even bark that becomes more brightly coloured during the winter. Some cultivars can scarcely be distinguished from others unless labeled. In some cases, identical cultivars go by different names, while in other cases, different cultivars may be given the same name.
is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple
Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or together with the Hippocastanaceae included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system, favour inclusion in Sapindaceae. The type species of the genus is Acer pseudoplatanus (Sycamore maple).
There are approximately 128 species, most of which are native to Asia, with a number also appearing in Europe, northern Africa, and North America. Only one species, the poorly studied Acer laurinum, is native to the Southern Hemisphere. Fifty-four species of maples meet the International Union for Conservation of Nature criteria for being under threat of extinction in their native habitat.
The word Acer derives from a Latin word meaning "sharp" (compare "acerbic"), referring to the characteristic points on maple leaves. It was first applied to the genus by the French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort in 1700. The earliest known fossil maple is Acer alaskense, from the Latest Paleocene of Alaska.
Most maples are trees growing to 10 – 45 m (30 – 145 ft) in height. Others are shrubs less than 10 metres tall with a number of small trunks originating at ground level. Most species are deciduous, but a few in southern Asia and the Mediterranean region are evergreen. Most are shade-tolerant when young and are often late-successional in ecology; many of the root systems are typically dense and fibrous. A few species, notably Acer cappadocicum, frequently produce root sprouts, which can develop into clonal colonies.
Maples are distinguished by opposite leaf arrangement. The leaves in most species are palmate veined and lobed, with 3 to 9 (rarely to 13) veins each leading to a lobe, one of which is central or apical. A small number of species differ in having palmate compound, pinnate compound, pinnate veined or unlobed leaves. Several species, including Acer griseum (Paperbark maple); Acer mandshuricum (Manchurian maple); Acer maximowiczianum (Nikko maple); and Acer triflorum (Three-flowered maple), have trifoliate leaves. One species, Acer negundo (Box-elder), has pinnately compound leaves that may be simply trifoliate or may have five, seven, or rarely nine leaflets. A few, such as Acer laevigatum (Nepal maple) and Acer carpinifolium (Hornbeam maple), have pinnately veined simple leaves.
The flowers are regular, pentamerous, and borne in racemes, corymbs, or umbels. They have four or five sepals, four or five petals about 1 – 6 mm long (absent in some species), four to ten stamens about 6 – 10 mm long, and two pistils or a pistil with two styles. The ovary is superior and has two carpels, whose wings elongate the flowers, making it easy to tell which flowers are female. Maples flower in late winter or early spring, in most species with or just after the appearance of the leaves, but in some before the trees leaf out.
Maple flowers are green, yellow, orange or red. Though individually small, the effect of an entire tree in flower can be striking in several species. Some maples are an early spring source of pollen and nectar for bees.
The distinctive fruit are called samaras or "maple keys". These seeds, or 'whirlybirds,' occur in distinctive pairs each containing one seed enclosed in a "nutlet" attached to a flattened wing of fibrous, papery tissue. They are shaped to spin as they fall and to carry the seeds a considerable distance on the wind. Children often call them "helicopters" due to the way that they spin as they fall. During World War Two the US Army developed a special air drop supply carrier that could carry up to 65 pounds of supplies and was based on the Maple seed. Seed maturation is usually in a few weeks to six months after flowering, with seed dispersal shortly after maturity. However, one tree can release hundreds of thousands of seeds at a time. Depending on the species, the seeds can be small and green to orange and big with thicker seed pods. The green seeds are released in pairs, sometimes with the stems still connected. The yellow seeds are released individually and almost always without the stems. Most species require stratification in order to germinate, and some seeds can remain dormant in the soil for several years before germinating.
The genus is subdivided by its morphology into a multitude of sections and subsections.
Pests and diseases
The leaves are used as a food plant for the larvae of a number of Lepidoptera species (see List of Lepidoptera that feed on maples). Aphids are also very common sap-feeders on maples. In horticultural applications a dimethoate spray will solve this.
In the United States and Canada, all maple species are threatened by the Asian Longhorned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis). Infestations have resulted in the destruction of thousands of maples and other tree species in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.
Maples are affected by a number of fungal diseases. Several are susceptible to Verticillium wilt caused by Verticillium species, which can cause significant local mortality. Sooty bark disease, caused by Cryptostroma species, can kill trees which are under stress due to drought. Death of maples can rarely be caused by Phytophthora root rot and Ganoderma root decay. Maple leaves in late summer and autumn are commonly disfigured by "tar spot" caused by Rhytisma species and mildew caused by Uncinula species, though these diseases do not usually have an adverse effect on the trees' long-term health.
A maple leaf is on the coat of arms of Canada, and is on the Canadian flag. The maple is a common symbol of strength and endurance and has been chosen as the national tree of many countries including Canada. Maple leaves are traditionally an important part of Canadian Forces military regalia. In the literary world, the word maple was first published in Geoffery Chaucer's "The Knights Tale" on line 2,065, spelled as "mapul".
Maples are planted as ornamental trees by homeowners, businesses and municipalities. Acer platanoides (Norway maple) is especially popular as it is fast-growing and extremely cold-resistant, though it is also an invasive species in some regions. Other maples, especially smaller or more unusual species, are popular as specimen trees.
Numerous maple cultivars which have been selected for particular characteristics can be propagated only by asexual reproduction such as cuttings, tissue culture, budding or grafting. Acer palmatum (Japanese maple) alone has over 1,000 cultivars, most selected in Japan, and many of them no longer propagated or not in cultivation in the Western world. Some delicate cultivars are usually grown in pots and rarely reach heights of more than 50–100 cm.
Maples are a popular choice for the art of bonsai. Acer palmatum (Japanese maple), Acer buergerianum (Trident maple), Acer ginnala (Amur maple), Acer campestre (Field maple) and Montpellier maple (A. monspessulanum) are popular choices and respond well to techniques that encourage leaf reduction and ramification, but most species can be used.
Maple collections, sometimes called aceretums, occupy space in many gardens and arboreta around the world including the "five great W's" in England: Wakehurst Place Garden, Westonbirt Arboretum, Windsor Great Park, Winkworth Arboretum and Wisley Garden. In the United States, the aceretum at the Harvard-owned Arnold Arboretum in Boston is especially notable. In the number of species and cultivars, the Esveld Aceretum in Boskoop, Netherlands is the largest in the world.
Many maples have bright autumn foliage, and many countries have leaf-watching traditions. In Japan, the custom of viewing the changing colour of maples in the autumn is called "momijigari". Nikko and Kyoto are particularly favoured destinations for this activity. In addition, in Korea, the same viewing activity is called "Danpung-Nori" and the Seoraksan and Naejang-san mountains are very famous places for it.
The Acer saccharum (sugar maple) are a contributor to seasonal Fall tourism in North America, particularly in Central Ontario, Québec, Vermont, New Hampshire and Western Massachusetts.
Maples are important as source of syrup and wood. Dried wood is often used for the smoking of food. Charcoal from maples is an integral part of the Lincoln County process used to make Tennessee Whiskey. They are also cultivated as ornamental plants and have benefits for tourism and agriculture.
The Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is tapped for sap, which is then boiled to produce maple syrup or made into maple sugar or maple taffy. It takes about 40 litres (42 US qt) of Sugar maple sap to make a 1 litre (1.1 US qt) of syrup. Syrup can be made from closely related species as well, but their output is inferior.
Some of the larger maple species have valuable timber, particularly Sugar maple in North America, and Sycamore maple in Europe. Sugar maple wood — often known as "hard maple" — is the wood of choice for bowling pins, bowling alley lanes, pool cue shafts, and butcher's blocks. Maple wood is also used for the manufacture of wooden baseball bats, though less often than ash or hickory due to the tendency of maple bats to shatter when broken. The maple bat was introduced to Major League Baseball (MLB) in 1998 by Sam Holman of Sam Bats. Today it is the standard maple bat most in use by professional baseball. Maple is also commonly used in archery as the core material in the limbs of a Recurve Bow due to its stiffness and strength.
Maple wood is often graded based on physical and aesthetic characteristics. The most common terminology includes the grading scale from common #2 which is unselected, and often used for craft woods, common #1 used for commercial and residential buildings, Clear, and select grade which sought out for fine woodworking.
Some maple wood has a highly decorative wood grain, known as flame maple, quilt maple, birdseye maple and burl wood. This condition occurs randomly in individual trees of several species, and often cannot be detected until the wood has been sawn, though it is sometimes visible in the standing tree as a rippled pattern in the bark.
These select decorative wood pieces also have subcategories which further filter the aesthetic looks. Crotch Wood, Bees Wing, Cats Paw, Old Growth and Mottled are some terms used to describe the look of these decorative woods.
Maples have a long history of use for furniture production in United States.
Maple is considered a tonewood, or a wood that carries sound waves well, and is used in numerous musical instruments. Maple is harder and has a brighter sound than Mahogany, which is another major tonewood used in instrument manufacture.
The back, sides, and neck of most violins, violas, cellos, and double basses are made from maple.
Electric guitar necks are commonly made from maple, having a brighter sound than rosewood. The necks of the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster were originally an entirely maple one piece neck, but later were also available with rosewood fingerboards. Les Paul desired an all maple guitar, but due to the weight of maple, only the tops of Gibson's Les Paul guitars are made from carved maple, often using quilted or flamed maple tops. Due to its weight, very few solid body guitars are made entirely from maple, but many guitars have maple necks, tops or veneers.
Maple is also often used to make bassoons and sometimes for other woodwind instruments.
Many drums are made from maple. From the 70s to the 90s, maple drum kits were a vast majority of all drum kits made, but in recent years, Birch has become popular for drums once again. Some of the best drum-building companies use maple extensively throughout their mid-pro range. Maple drums are favored for their bright resonant sound.
As they are a major source of pollen in early spring before many other plants have flowered, maples are important to the survival of honeybees that play a commercially important role later in the spring and summer.
Maple is used as pulpwood. The fibers have relatively thick walls that prevents collapsing upon drying. This gives good bulk and opacity in paper. Maple also gives paper with good printing properties.