The laceleaf Japanese maples are considered by many gardeners to be the most beautiful forms of this lovely tree. The Seiryu Japanese Maple is a unique form of the laceleaf, or dissectum type, because it grows not into a cascading mound as the others do, but into an upright vase-shaped tree up to 15 feet tall. It makes the perfect small tree for a smaller garden; perhaps an Asian-themed one, a wooded garden, or any garden at all where beauty and ease of growing are appreciated. If you have been afraid to grow laceleaf Japanese maples because you have heard they are hard to grow, then this is the tree for you, as experts considered it to be among the easiest of all Japanese maples to grow. So, if this is your first time, start with an easy tree. The leaves in spring are pale green, with reddish edges. In summer they turn into a rich, cool green and then in fall they explode into yellows, oranges, and reds, before finally turning burgundy. This spectacular display is a fitting way to end the gardening year.
- The only upright growing dissected-leaf Japanese maple
- Gorgeous small tree for any garden
- Delicate pale green and red-edged spring leaves
- Beautiful fall colors of yellow, orange, red and burgundy
- One of the easiest Japanese maples to grow
Choose a sunny spot for your tree if you live in a cooler zone – this will give you the best fall colors. In warmer areas, shade from the hot afternoon sun is beneficial and protects your tree. It will grow well in ordinary garden soil, enriched with organic material. Keep your tree watered well during the early years, especially in summer. This is perhaps the easiest of all the Japanese maples to grow, so plant one and relax. No special care at all is required to enjoy the beauty of this tree in your own garden.
Japanese maples are renowned for their diversity and great beauty. The most desired among them are those with deeply-divided leaves, often like thin threads. Known as ‘dissectum’, or laceleaf, the trees in this group are all cascading or pendulous small trees, which remain as small to medium-sized mounds even after many years. There is, however, one exception to this rule – the Seiryu Japanese Maple. This tree is unique in being the only ‘dissectum’ Japanese Maple that grows into an upright form – making it very special indeed. So, if you love those delicate, divided leaves, but you need a more upright tree for your garden, then this has to be your choice.
Growing Seiryu Japanese Maple
The Seiryu Japanese Maple grows steadily into a small upright tree, reaching 10 or 15 feet in height. It spreads to between 8 and 12 feet wide, making it an ideal choice for a small space. Most of the larger Japanese Maples grow as wide as they are tall, which can make them hard to fit into smaller gardens. So the Seiryu Japanese Maple is not only beautiful, but useful too, especially if you are planting into a more restricted space.
Appearance and Coloring
The small leaves are up to 2 inches long, and emerge in spring in beautiful shades of light green, each lobe tipped and edged in delicate reddish hues. They are deeply cut into narrow lobes that reach right to the base of the leaf, creating the laceleaf effect. As summer comes, the leaves turn into a cool and calming mid-green. Then in fall there is a dramatic explosion of gold, orange and red, turning finally to burgundy before dropping. This display turns every head that sees it.
In spring you will see tiny purplish-red flowers in clusters among the leaves, and these develop into miniature versions of the well-known maple keys that fall from larger maple trees. In this tree they are small and bright red, adding an attractive touch to the bare branches in winter.
The Seiryu Japanese Maple is fast growing, and easy to grow, unlike some of its more delicate relatives. Choose a sunny or partially shaded location to plant it, and add plenty of organic material to the soil when you prepare the ground. Mulch your tree each spring with rich organic material, to provide nutrition and also to conserve moisture. In hot areas a location that has shade from the afternoon sun during the months of summer is best. It will grow well in any garden soil that is well-drained but not too dry.
History and Origins of the Seiryu Japanese Maple
The Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) is a native tree of not only Japan, but also Korea and parts of Russia and Mongolia. This small tree grows 20 to 30 feet tall in the partial shade underneath larger forest trees. For centuries, unusual specimens have been collected and cultivated in Japan, and these have come to North America and Europe, so that today hundreds of different forms are available. In spring, red red-leaved forms are very beautiful – but many lose their color over summer and become dark, greenish and uninteresting.
Green-leaved forms, in contrast, have the same delicately beautiful divided leaves, but they stay bright green all season, and look lovely all summer long. They also stand out in the garden and do not disappear into the shade as red forms easily do. ‘Seiryu’ in Japanese means ‘Green Dragon’, which is a good name for this tree in its summer coat of green, but certainly doesn’t describe the soft beauty of this tree in spring or the vibrant display of fall.