You cannot overlook the Japanese maple, also known as Acer palmatum. This hardy deciduous shrub starts the spring by producing fresh young leaves and emerges as a colourful foliage shrub in the autumn. The autumn colours of the dense foliage then provides a wow factor in your garden. The leaves are hand-shaped, which is reflected in the plant’s second name ‘palmatum’. This eye-catching character does well in both beds and pots.
Acer is a big genus comprising 125 different trees and shrubs. They originate from the temperate and subtropical regions of the northern hemisphere. The Japanese maple originates from Japan and Korea. It symbolises the flame of inspiration: which is understandable when you look at the growth habit, the leaf colours and shapes. For this reason the plant is also widely used in resting places and meditation gardens in Buddhist temples. In Japan the maple is considered the tree that protects against calamity. In Celtic culture Acer symbolises independence.
The Acer is a member of the Sapindaceae or soapberry family, which also includes the maple family.
The Japanese maple combines wonderfully with other plants from Japan such as the Rhododendron, Hydrangea, Pieris, Skimmia, Helleborus, Hosta or garden ferns.
Von Siebold brought the Japanese maple to Europe in around 1850, together with many other plants in Japan. Leiden Botanical Garden has created the Von Siebold Memorial Garden in his honour which also includes the Japanese maple.