Acer japonicum

Scientific name: Acer japonicum cv. Attaryi


Common name: A Full Moon Maple, A Japanese Maple

Family: Aceraceae




As if the autumn elves had given full expression to their artistic whims; the soft, papery leaves of our maple, accession 820793 at the top of Bed 195, exhibit many shades and combinations of colour.

Below the Residence Garden, the two large oaks and the weather station is the ‘middle road’. This road forms the upper boundary of the Eurasian Broadleaf-Deciduous Bed 195 that continues down to the Northern Pavilion.

Our feature tree, of unknown origin and now about 4 metres tall, has been in the garden since 1982 or earlier and was received as Acer aconitifolium. That name has been corrected to Acer japonicum cv. Aconitifolium. We also have a labelled specimen of Acer japonicum cv. Aconitifolium, from a different source, in bed EW199 on the Plant Explorers Walk near the signage for Nathaniel Wallich. And, they do not look at all the same!

References to Acer japonicum cv. Aconitifolium reveal that our tree does have many of the characters of Acer japonicum though it does not fit most descriptions for the form, or to some authors the cultivar, aconitifolium. More recent references suggest a match with Acer shirasawanum possibly cultivars Palmatifolium or Ogureyama for our mystery plant. Acer sieboldianum cultivar Ogurayama also appeared as a strong possibility. So far Acer japonicum or Acer japonicum cv. Attaryi, described by C. J. van Gelderen & D. M. van Gelderen, 1999, in Maples for Gardens-a color encyclopedia, seem the closest matches. As these authors confirm that Acer japonicum cv. Attaryi was originally grown under the name ‘Aconitifolium’ and later mistakenly identified as a cultivar of A. sieboldianum perhaps the mystery is explained?