Natural Japanese Maple growth?

nokiJanuary 12, 2008

How does a more normal sized Japanese Maple seedling grow? How tall? Any pics?

All the JM trees I see have been pruned so they are kinda bushy/ spread out and do not have any central leaders but twiggy, and have multiple low thick branches with not much of a main trunk. How much are these trees for sale trained/topped? Cultivars are all grafted of course anyway.

Just wondering... a small natural tree might be nice.

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myersphcf(z6a IL)

This is a BIG subject...but I will say many of the trees you see in Ohio are likely "natural" NOT trimmed ...having multi trunks can often be from NOT trimming and can also be caused by many things including winter die back especially with older trees that 'lived' through the horrible winters of the 80's and 90's. There are also many cultivars with that bushy growth pattern but I would guess if they are upright ( non dissectum) and larger they are seed grown ( not grafted )common A.p. Red Atropurpureum also know as just Red Acer Palmatum ( there is a true A.p. Atropurpureum but most feel it has become basically non existant in the USA bread into a basic generic Red Japanese maple.) Most if not all JM's in your area are likely seed grown if over 10 years old .... Now ( today) most are grafted but this was not the case in most non JM friendly areas til as I said about 10 or so years ago. There are hudreds of differnt Jm cultivars some bushy some more upright some small and some large of each...Being "natural " does not mean a single leader tree even with most upright JM's. It is not necessarily what you will get "naturally" and in fact trimming in many cases is the ONLY way to get a single leader tree..david

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 12:52AM
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noki

I guess I kinda assume (but don't really know) that Japanese Maples would be kinda like a smaller version of Acer rubrum in that it would be variable in trunk depending on the situation, but I'm also assuming that people tend to expect Japanese maples to look a certain way and trim them that way. Trees for sale obviously look like they have been trimmed at the top branches for a few years, you can see the dead ends. Or do the top branches tend to die off in winter and they trim them for uniformity, so a wide short canopy is what is natural in the end?

Older red leaved JM trees that have been around for a long time do (you say should be seedling grown) often have very low trunks with kinda an overgrown bushy habit with wide spread low branches. This is how the trees grew in the particular climate?

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 5:16AM
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gardengal48

There isn't a single growth pattern that is typical to Japanese maples. Even seed grown trees will produce variable habits. And since nearly all cultivars are now grafted, that adds another factor into the mix, as the graft and subsequent growth habit can be manipulated depending on the scion used. As there are nearly as many different forms and growth habits as there are cultivars of these trees, it's difficult to understand what folks may expect a "typical" JM to look like.

Not all trees generate a growth habit that feature a single leader, so I'm not at all sure how that concept came to be so firmly ingrained in our minds that it was more desirable to have a tree that produces a single leader. Many smaller shade and flowering trees never develop a single leader growth pattern, but start producing a codominate branching structure relatively low. The growth pattern of JM's will most closely follow this tendency. You often see this described in texts as a "shrub-like or shrubby tree", indicating there is generally no single extended trunk but rather a short trunk that splits into the codominate branching structure, much the way most shrubs grow. Often this branching structure starts so low that it gives the appearance of multiple trunks emerging from the ground.

Under ideal conditions and given enough time, seedlings of the straight species Acer palmatum can produce a good sized tree - 25-30' tall and with an equal spread. Scroll down to the "Introduction to Japanese Maples" in the attached link to see some mature species JM's in all their glory.

Here is a link that might be useful: mature Acer palmatums

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 10:22AM
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picea(6A Cinci- Oh)

Hi Noki,

I would think that many of the older red varieties are Bloodgoods. My mother has a grafted tree in Cincinnati that was planted in 1977. Since Bloodgood is a Standard size palmatum I would thing the species would have a similar growth patern. The exceptions would be for plants grown from seeds takes from the dwarf or unique featured cultivars. David

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 12:31PM
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