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Help Choosing a Coral Bark Japanese Maple

Posted by strawberrie 7, Central VA (My Page) on
Fri, May 12, 06 at 10:46

Last week while at a nursery I ran into a coral bark japanese maple. I'd never seen one before and boy was it STRIKING. The specimen I saw was the Sango Kaku variety with bright red bark all the way to the ground and neon green leaves with blood red fringes.

Being the japanese maple lover I am, I MUST have one of these coral bark maples, but I can't decide which one I want. I know what I am looking for visually but am unsure which one to go with to achieve the effect. I'm looking for these qualities:

1) reasonably tall (at least 10', preferably more)
2) at least moderate growth rate
3) can be placed in part-full sun area (I have shadier spots available if needed)
4) the showiest and brightest red bark that continues over as much of the plant as possible
5) preferably non-red leaves to contrast with the bark

My concern with the Sango Kaku variety is that I've read only the new growth is red, then turns brown the next year. I would like all of the woody growth to be red if possible.

These are the varieties of coral bark I've been recommended so far:

Beni Kawa
Japanese Sunrise
Pacific Fire
Sango Kaku

I would love input on how these varieties fit what I'm looking for and even suggestions on varieties you think would be better.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Help Choosing a Coral Bark Japanese Maple

Personally, I don't think you can go too far wrong with Sango Kaku. I'd just want to make sure I obtained mine from a very reputable source, as I fear there are some inferior growing operations out there that are mass producing this tree, perhaps not from the choicest stock and the end result is some rather inconsistant, ill-formed and disease-prone trees.

I bought mine 10 years ago. It has matured into a gorgeous, naturally perfectly shaped specimen (never taken pruners to it) about 18' tall. I've yet to see much redness on the leaves, even when first emerging and I'd describe the foliage color as a bright, grassy green. Fall color is a peachy gold.

The tree is stunning in winter. The entire crown glows red with only the trunk and the largest and oldest portions of the major branches more of a greeny-brown. It certainly is not obvious to me that second year growth looses color, in fact quite the opposite. It is the canopy and branching structure you notice when not in leaf, not the trunk, and this has retained its coral red color extremely well.

RE: Help Choosing a Coral Bark Japanese Maple

I know you said japanese maple, but you might also want to look into an American maple/German cultivar: acer pensylvanicum erythrocladum - the bark is stunning (red in winter, red with white stripes during the year, then turning slightly like sango kaku for a while) the leaves a great green throughout the year, and a luminous yellow in the fall.

RE: Help Choosing a Coral Bark Japanese Maple

I have an A.p. 'Sango Kaku', which I do love. My only complaint with this tree is twig die-back in the winter. It seems very sensitive to cold winds. Color is wonderful, however!

Don't forget the green-barked compliment to coral-bark maples. These trees display brilliant lime-green bark in the winter: A.p. 'Aoyagi' (gets big like "Sang Kaku') and A.p. 'Aocha Nishiki' (smaller - 8 to 9 feet). Planted close to a coral bark, they will create quite a show together!



RE: Help Choosing a Coral Bark Japanese Maple

Don't forget 'Fjellheim', I have heard that the color retention on this cultivar is better than 'Sango kaku'. It is more compact although reaching 7-12 feet at maturity.

RE: Help Choosing a Coral Bark Japanese Maple

What do you guys say about 'Herbstfeuer'?



RE: Help Choosing a Coral Bark Japanese Maple

hi. i'm sorry if i brought up an old thread but i sure would appreciate some help. i am interesting in replacing a JM (died) with a JM Sango Kaku. what is the deal with the red/coral bark? does it stay red/coral? i visited a nursery last week and thought i had picked out a great one with the shape i liked and it's main stem/branch/bark was red/coral color. when i visited today, i noticed that the main stem of the tree was no longer red and more of a gray/greenish color.

does the red/coral bark lose its color in the main stem at specific times of the year or with age? or something. if i get one with a red main stem, will it remain red/coral?

thanks so much for any input.

RE: Help Choosing a Coral Bark Japanese Maple

Pretty much any of the "coral barks" (Sango Kaku is the original - the name means 'coral tower') will have the brightest bark coloration on the newest growth and in the winter. Oldest bark (trunk and eventually major limbs) will turn a duller greenish brown.

During summer or through the primary growing season, even newest stem color is not very pronounced, but hard to see anyway when tree is fully leafed. It is the colder weather of winter that really intensifies the color.

RE: Help Choosing a Coral Bark Japanese Maple

thank you ggal

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