By "not native," I am not referring to people. Although there is quite a bit of talk around here about the people who have lived here for generations, the rest of us considered "outsiders." I have even seen license plates that say, "Native." I saw one in a parking lot and when the woman got out I was tempted to say, "Gee, you don't look Cherokee at all." But I didn't. And that's a whole different story.
The words "not native" refer to one of my favorite little trees. Almost all of our plants and shrubs are native to the area. (My precious camellia being one exception.) But one tree that gives us great joy is not only not native to western North Carolina, it isn't native to the United States.
It is the Coral Bark Maple, Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku'. This lovely little tree has great foliage in spring, summer and fall, but its most striking feature is the bark. Always a shade of coral, the color deepens dramatically in cold weather. Absent any leaves, it's remarkable deep coral stands out in winter.
I took these photographs yesterday during a brief respite from the downpours we had. The sky was gray and dreary and yet this little maple glowed even without any help from the sun.
The tree grows rather slowly with maximum height of 25 feet.
It adds such gorgeous color to the winter yard.
One of my favorite little trees.
Most of the plants in our yard are holly, rhododendron, mountain laurel, witch hazel and other native shrubs and trees. We are not purists who believe it's a shame to plant non-native varieties. We have mostly native varieties for the simple reason that they are best adapted to our environment and less likely to require replacement. But the Coral Bark Maple does quite well in its location and we do enjoy it in all seasons of the year.
(Sad note: My silly camellia decided to bud out early and all the buds got frozen and dropped to the ground. Ah well, there's always next year. Maybe.)