Folks always ask what my favorite Japanese Maple is and being in love with so many I them I just “hem and haw” then just say there are too many to have one favorite . But when they leave and I am walking thru the yard I always look at one tree and marvel how cool it is how beautiful it is and different it is .. That tree is the Umegae pictured below. pronounced “OO MEH GUY ” but said as one word obviously. This is not an American or European Jm but was discovered in Japan around 1882. Spring color is a deep red/ brown , summer it becomes bronze green and the fall a very nice orange with some scarlet mixed in … the branches are green and lend great contrast… and the leaves smaller but have super cool sharp pointy serrated lobes but not deeply divided making this a distinct Amoenum leaf form. The leaves also have nice green veins that help extenuate the color making them stunning in every season .. The tree is very graceful with a very nice form and character.. it can be opened up with a little trimming into more of a tree form than as shown .. In fact I have never trimmed this tree until today and that was just the bottom branches that needed it.. It was a three year old small tree when I bought it and has been in the ground going into it’s 5th season. So it is a slow grower .. I think, in anywhere but the most maple friendly places, it will stay below 8-1o ft. What is so special to me about this tree is it’s unusual season long interesting colors its graceful form and the fact that is is different than any other JM I have seen. A newbe with little knowledge could do the impossible and ID it .
My favorite Umegae story I love to tell is when I received it ..if I were a betting man ( which I am not) I would have bet the farm this tree wouldn’t make it through the winter and would burn up in summer .. It just looks so delicate and graceful .. If I were a betting man I would have no farm now and would in fact be on the poor farm now, this tree is extremely hardy has taken cold down to -20 and goes all summer with little or no leaf burn …. The lesson is you can’t tell hardiness or sun-worthiness by just a-lookin’.
Umegae is just a terrific tree hard to get but worth it .. It is truly Davidsan’s favorite tree.