Today’s photograph and written entry is courtesy of Anthony (Tony) Aiello, the Gayle E. Maloney Director of Horticulture and Curator at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Tony a couple times over the past decade during meetings of the North American China Plant Exploration Consortium. Much appreciated!
This photo of Acer henryi (Henry maple) was taken recently at Niu Bei Liang Nature Reserve, in the Qin Ling mountains of Shaanxi Province, China. This was a remarkable location, in which we saw nine species of maple, and the identity of one of these is a mystery. The Acer henryi were growing in scattered places throughout the forest, often in clearings, and were showing early signs of this outstanding fall color. Unfortunately, we did not find any seed to collect. The other maples seen in this area were: Acer cappadocicum subsp. sinicum, Acer ceriferum, Acer davidii, Acer erianthum, Acer oliverianum, Acer pectinatum subsp. maximowiczii, Acer shenkanense (Acer tricaudatum), and the unknown species.
Acer henryi is found in botanic gardens but otherwise is not widely grown as an ornamental in North America. It is a handsome tree, with very clean summer foliage and outstanding fall color, ranging from deep purples to brilliant reds. As a result it merits more attention and would make an excellent small landscape plant.
Daniel adds: Acer henryi also has a lengthy chain of winged fruits, which provide additional interest. The species is named after Irish plantsman Augustine Henry, the first person of European descent to encounter and collect it.
Lastly, as an aside to local readers, the VanDusen Cedar Lecture Series hosts Ron Long speaking on a topic of great interest to me tonight, “The Unique Plants of Southern Oregon”.