Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Not Native

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.)


Anonymous said...

I've never seen anything like that Coral Bark Maple. It's spectacular.

Barbara Rogers said...

Great idea to think of adding color to's so needed!

Vicki Lane said...

I have one of these -- THE most glorious color!

Re your comment over on my blog: my husband's grandmother was Olive Hess from (I think) Mt. Kisco, NY -- another amazing woman -- wonder if there's a connection?

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Too bad about your Camellia. I see we are to get a freezing Sunday night Monday morning....have Magnolia buds that may follow your Camellia.
I have a Sango Kaku in my front garden. Love the color in each season. I have a daffodil planted under it that echos the reds and yellows...Narcissus 'Tahiti' great match.

Andrea said...

Hi, i smiled at your first paragraph. That plant is certainly spectacular in any setting, that's why it is imitated in artificial arrangements. It really looks like the giant red coral under the sea. Is it related or is it the same as what they call dogwood because i've read it in some blogs too, they look the same.

KGMom said...

This is a new tree for me--and most striking.
I guess the major concern with any non-native plant or animal is whether it will take over and displace the native species.
Come to think of it, that's the same concern humans have...only we never think of our own selves as the displacers, which--of course--most of us were in this country.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Vicki - Don't think there is any connection but it surely is interesting.

Donna - Yes, we never think of ourselves as the displacers.

Anonymous said...

I love coral bark maples! When we lived in Memphis, our neighbor threw one away because their dog had chewed it. I rescued it and in gratitude, it came back beautifully. When we moved to Minnesota, I dug it up and gave it to our daughter in Atlanta. They have since moved. I hope the tree is still thriving.

My other non-native favorite is a Japanese snowbell tree. Ahhhh. I left that behind in Wilmington. :(

Busy Bee Suz said...

That is a magnificent tree. I've never seen anything so striking before. Would you be a gem and share a photo of it when it is full of leaves? I'd love to see the contrast.
The native thing....your 'almost' comment to the bumper sticker lady had me laughing. Gosh, if you were to say that to someone, can I please be there to witness it??
Living here in Florida, Florida "natives" are a rarity. Me, being a native would never take offense to someone not from here. I'm thrilled to know I live someone beautiful enough that others also want to enjoy it. Also, my great grandmother was Native American. So does that make me Double Native??