Sunday, June 21, 2015

Truth in Tags

In my last post I was so excited to find a 'Seiryu' Japanese maple at an affordable price and a small enough container size that I could plant myself.

And I found it unexpectedly at Lowe's.

This was truly a scoop. If local nurseries or box stores around here carry a dissected green Japanese maple it is always 'Viridis', a common weeping variety. It's very common; I have found it everywhere I have looked at Japanese maples.

But to find an upright green dissected one was surprising so I snapped it up.

Yesterday I planted it in a spot by the creek bed and took the tag off and only then did I look a little closer.

Yep, it says Acer palmatum dissectum 'Seiryu'. Thank god for botanical Latin. But down at the bottom it lists its features, including "cascading" tree. Cascading?

Is this really 'Viridis', the very common and easily found weeping maple that every store around here sells?

Or is it really 'Seiryu' and the lazy people making label descriptions just lifted stock language from dissected maples in general?

The incised leaves of 'Viridis' and 'Seiryu' look the same; it's the form and habit that are completely different.

The back of the tag says it needs afternoon shade, and it will spread to 15 feet wide, which is the size of a giant mounding weeper, not the spread of the narrow, slender 'Seiryu'.

There is a reference number to look up at the bottom of the tag, so I went online but no such reference exists on the site. There are other Japanese maples with other code numbers, but not L1173.

Enough of useless tags. Let's go out and look at the tree I planted. Is it growing upright or mounding over?

Ummm, I can't tell.

It's impossible to see in the photo -- the slender twigs and lacy leaves don't show up against the complex background of rocks and dirt. But even looking at it in real life I can't tell.

It looks upright overall but the bendable branches flop out and down. The ones in the middle go up straight, the ones to the side and at the bottom arch over.

So I don't know. This tree looks like a combination of upright and arching. It's both.

What nags at me is knowing that 'Viridis' is commonly sold here, 'Seiryu' is not. Their leaves look alike. 'Viridis' needs afternoon shade (the tag says grow this in morning sun only), but my research tells me a 'Seiryu' maple can take full sun.

I'm hoping this tag just lifted wording about dissected-leaf trees in general -- that they need shade, they cascade, they spread to 15 feet wide -- even though this unusual tree is supposed to take sun, grows upright and will be no more than 8 feet wide and vase shaped.

What really bothers me most is that finding 'Seiryu' at Lowe's seemed too good to be true. You think?
Which one have I actually planted?

I'll grow this tree and see what develops. If it gets huge and cascading, I will know it was mislabeled and it will come out. If not, I'll know the label was right but the description and care instructions were woefully generic and useless and wrong.

(And yes, I'll let the store know the plant tag has a mismatched label and description. I've given feedback to Lowe's before about their nursery operations and gotten an acknowledgement back, so there's that.)

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