Japanese Red Maple Seeds

nicholiareliusOctober 22, 2006

Okay I'm a little confused.

I read in that thread down there that you are supposed to use a damp paper towel and put it in the fridge.

On a source on the net, it said put them in a mixture of peat and sand for 100 days. On another source it said put it at room temp for 70 days in a bag of peat and sand, then put it in the fridge for 90 days.

So yeah. I'm confused.

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Btw I picked the seeds off my moms red maple the day before yesterday. they soaked in water for 24 hours like the site said. Then, I put them in moist peat over night. Today I added sand and some potting soil to the mix because I read elsewhere you were supposed to do that. But in general I'm confused.

I'm not really sure if i picked the seeds too early or not. If they weren't brown and dead looking, and they were still red does that mean they wont grow?

I'm a complete noobie to growing anything, but I fell in love with the bonsai and I wanted to try my hand at growing my own.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 1:50PM
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Red maples often produce seed in the spring, but they should be allowed to dry, have the wings broken off and stored til the fall. Then you soak them in warm (not too hot, but don't worry about renewing water once they're in it) water x 24 hrs, then put into a peat/sand or peat/perlite mix wetted throughout but then squeezed to get out any drips, leaving it barely moist. Put the whole thing in a baggie x 90 in the fridge (not freezer) and when the time's up, plant them in little pots til the last frost in your area has past (could be April or even early May... check with a nursery to find out). The confusion is because some maples lose seed in the fall, and those can either be just planted outside in the ground, or go thru the above procedure. To check your seed for viability, when you're soaking them, discard floaters after the 24 hrs are up, the sinkers are more likely to sprout. I have no idea what the room temperature thing is about though.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 4:43PM
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Wow...discard the floaters?

Out of like 30 seeds only 5 or 6 were at the bottom. They are all in the bag of peat and sand already.

I soaked them for the 24 hours, then put them in peat and sand, and I put a handfull of potting soil in too. What's confusing me though is the peat doesn't hold water...at all. It stays dry. If I put water in it, it collects at the bottom of the bag. I'm not quite sure what the problem is. Any suggestions, in that aspect?

Also, should I re-soak the seeds to see which ones float and which ones sink...or should I try all the seeds?

Also, does anyone know where I could buy some imported seeds (japanese, exotic, etc). I definately want to try my luck with ficus religiosa(the name for the Bodhi tree...I'm a buddhist and thought it would be very interesting to have a little bodhi tree of my own..even though only the tree the Buddha sat under, and it's decendents are technically Bodhi) and fukien tea. I also would like to try a weeping willow. We have one in the backyard but it doesn't seem to produce seeds.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 5:33PM
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gnome_in_pa(Zone 6)


If you collected seeds now they probably are not Red Maple (Acer rubrum), but instead Japanese maples. This is a good thing, Red Maples have large leaves that are not the best choice for bonsai culture. Here is a link to a picture of some Japanes Maple (Acer palmatum), seeds that I collected a few weeks ago. Do your seeds look like this? I tried to imbed the thumbnail code but it does not seem to be working the way that I expected it to so you will have to cut and paste it.


I am also posting a link, see below, that should help clear up some of the confusion regarding stratification.

Willow root very easily, even very large cuttings, and using cuttings will shorten the time it will take to get a decent sized trunk, skip the seeds with this one.

As far as exotic seeds, I have had good luck with Japanese Grey Bark Elm, (Zelkova serrata). While not terribly exotic they are strong growers well suited to beginners.


Here is a link that might be useful: Stratification

    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 10:14PM
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Peat will get wet, but you have to add a little bit at a time, stir well with a spoon, then add a bit more, constantly stirring, until the whole bunch is wet - aggravating, but it works. Just letting it sit in a lot of water will make it act like oil.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 5:40AM
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Yeah, the picture in the link you provided is what I have. I guess they aren't called Japanese Red Maples? That's what my mother has always called it and that is what I assumed it was. It's red. It's a maple. Supposedly it's Japanese. heh.

Anyways thanks for the help. And I guess I gotta mix the peat up when I get home with water because it's still not looking very wet.

By the way, back to the floater and sinker thing...Should I resoak the seeds to see which ones sink and which ones float again?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 10:17AM
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gnome_in_pa(Zone 6)


You wrote:
"I guess they aren't called Japanese Red Maples? That's what my mother has always called it and that is what I assumed it was. It's red. It's a maple. Supposedly it's Japanese."

You did not use the word "Japanese" in your initial posts. The common names that people use to describe plants can be confusing. It is always better to provide the proper horticultural name if you know it.

You wrote:
"By the way, back to the floater and sinker thing...Should I resoak the seeds to see which ones sink and which ones float again?"

No don't soak them again. The float test may not necessarily be 100% accurate. Cut a few of the floaters in half and if you see healthy white tissue they are probably ok. At any rate what would it hurt to plant them. Don't overlook the option of collecting more seed. I always like to start with far more than I think I want anyway.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 10:57AM
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Maples have always fascinated me, especially their fine array of autumn colors. Genetic diversity occurs almost with all plants n animals, so it's no wonder that we have 600 different secies of Japanese Maples. They have been so cross pollinated that the seeds do not always germinate true to the mother plant. The dominant gene in each seed differ from their siblings, likewise no 2 brothers look alike unless they are identical twins. When you say red J. M.(for short), do you mean their foliage remain red in summer or are u referring to their autumn coloration? Red J. M. is a cultivar (cultivated variety n man made) n invariably these plants have been bud- or stem-grafted.
Many plant seeds are dormant and u need stratification to break its dormancy before they can germinate. In nature winter provides the cold for stratification, so we save time when we resort to the cold fridge. Especially with maples their seeds r sterile (not possessing a zygote) and sterile seeds float due to its bouancy, thus culling the floaters give u better rate of germination. A fine example of sterile seeds is the paperbark maple, where the viable seeds make up no more than 10% of seeds produced. I know of a particular plant where the sterile seeds reach a 100%, nothing from it geminates. It is true knowing when to harvest the seeds help to increase the rate of germination. Each specie behave differently in this aspect. I have had the experience of getting a seedling within 2 weeks of germination even without stratification, just 1 seed out of maybe 300 collected.
Usually there is no need to keep the seeds at 70 deg. F for any length of time, though there is no harm in doing it. The medium u use in stratification does not play a part in the success of germination except to provide moisture to the seeds. Without the medium u will drown the seeds. Whatever the medium make sure they are moist n not wet, better if they are not contaminated with fungal spores. Thus a soiless mixture is better, less contamination. I would prefer to use perlite as it retains moisture without getting too wet n is definately sterile.
Some maple can have double dormancy, so you chill, then warm and chill again. This is true with most dogwood seeds. Understand too that with the same batch of seeds, some will germinate in the first year while the hard nut may take up to 5 years to germinate. So be patient n don't dicard the seeds after 1st year but re-chill for another 90 days and germinate them again. You can do this cycle for 5 times say in 180x5=900 days instead of 5 years in nature. Of interest u will find the seedlings from the 1st year more prolitic in growth n the latter ones have a tenancy to become dwarf plants. I hope u have been better enlightened by my message. Nicholas, happy geminating to u.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 12:45PM
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The name of the thread is JAPANESE RED MAPLES, so I figured it was implied. My sincerest appologies to you for your misunderstanding, gnome.

And yes, the tree in our backyard has red leaves year round. Well new foliage is usually green for a little bit but it turns red. My mom said it was just a little stick when she bought and planted it, and it was expensive. I was too young to remember, though.

And thank you for your input Jamkh, it was truely helpful. ^.^

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 3:54PM
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Oh one more thing, on zones...

I live in 7b I think. North Eastern North Carolina. When looking a the zone map I was between light brown and light red.

When would be the best time to put them outside? With me germninating now, my seeds will be done (hopefully) around January or February. I will most likely fashion an indoor greenhouse or something to keep them in until it will be safe to keep them outdoors.

If I would need to do that, does anyone have any tips on how I would go about fashioning one, or where I could buy something sufficient to use? Any help would be awesome. ^.^

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 4:00PM
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gnome_in_pa(Zone 6)


My apologies to you for overlooking the obvious. Good luck to you.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 7:48PM
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Hi - The best plac would be somewhere airy (rather than e.g. an old aquarium), and on the cooler side (once they've sprouted of course), with decent lighting (tho' not up against a south facing window). The g-house idea is tempting, but being what they are (and not African violets), they'll do better in less than tropical conditions I think, in a fast draining gritty mix (no peat) and watering only when the soil begins to dry out (as opposed to keeping them wet all the time - and as they grow, they'll need it less often, though you don't need to be too careful in spring).

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 7:54PM
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The picture is Japanese Maple. Probably Blood Good cultivar. It is not American Maple. If it was sold as Japanese Red Maple it as Acer Atropurpureum. This particular variety of Japanese Maple, if grown from seed, will produce a wide variety of different looking trees. Out of one-hundred seeds you may get one that looks like the parent tree and maybe two that look like their siblings. Its a lot of fun to grow them this way but it is a crap shoot as to what you will get in the end.

Vance Wood.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 10:18AM
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Yeah it's a Bloodgood. I had looked it up yesterday. So if I want another bloodgood variety, I need to do a cutting?

Any suggestions on how to do a cutting from a Bloodgood? I have some rooting hormone already.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 10:36AM
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Yes, and cuttings are very difficult with Japanese Maples. However; Blood Good do not make real good bonsai, the leaves are too large and difficult to reduce. I would grow the seeds and be happy with the new seedlings and see what they do. If you insist on the cutting route you need to use a strong rooting hormone, bottom heat and a mist system.

Vance Wood.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 2:27PM
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I have a good experience trying to root maple cuttings using a misting system and bottom heat, as so aptly suggested by vancewood. I managed to keep the stem n leaves intact for 6 months(like Crimson King)to 9 months (Palmatum atroperpureum, Palmatum Dissectum). At the end of that time a few Crimson King did root, only 1 dissectum and zero for atroperpureum. In fact I met a Japanese bonsai expert who claim that you can't root a J. Maple. I would rather claim that it is most difficult to root this plant by cuttings or even aerial layering. However I had one good success of layering on a Full Moon Maple. I selected a 0.75 inch thick stem, completely ring the bark in a narrow strip. Then I covered the wound with rock wool and started an automated drip system. Surprisingly, it showed 2 roots through the wool in the short time of 3 months. As autumn was fast approaching, I decided to cut the branch and kept it through winter in soiless mix with bottom heat. I kept the branch in the open close to the house wall. It not only survived the winter but in spring burst out into life with vigor. Now I have a lovely Full moon maple that reaches a height of 4 feet and a spread of 4.5 feet. I could not figure out why I failed with branches of smaller girth from the same tree.
I also tested this method with a.Atroperpureum and failed miserably to get any rooting from this specie. I tend to agree with my Japanese friend if you try rooting with this specie. Well who can say with a certainty that such an attempt is impossible until you have ridden and crested the waves for yourself.
I have always enjoyed coming to grips with the Impossible, as it challenges your resourcefulness.
Nicholas, keep challenging yourself and you may be amazed with what you can achieve. To some the word impossible doesn't exist.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 8:21PM
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Okay a few days ago I took a cutting from the Willow. The cuttings are about...ehhh 7 inches long and about an inch thick a piece. I'm wondering if it would be problematic where I cut off the little limbs off the side of the cutting. Would that leave ugly scaring? Would those start trying to root? Also, I have a little rooting hormone in the water that these are sitting in, just to be sure they take root but I don't know if I should do that. Should I put htem in fresh water with no rooting hormone? How often (if ever) should I change the water?

Sorry to be asking so many questions, heh. I've gotten some books but I have yet to find one who is specific enough to answer all my questions. Most tell you how to start doing things, but doesn't give much info after that.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 8:57PM
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gnome_in_pa(Zone 6)


You wrote: "The picture is Japanese Maple. Probably Blood Good cultivar. If it was sold as Japanese Red Maple it as Acer Atropurpureum."

I am unable to glean any information from the current home owner regarding the tree that I collected these seeds from.
There is a pair of them and I estimate them to be at least 12ft tall and assume that they are rather old. I have no idea if it is indeed a named cultivar.

Also: "This particular variety of Japanese Maple, if grown from seed, will produce a wide variety of different looking trees. Out of one-hundred seeds you may get one that looks like the parent tree."

I grew some seeds from this same tree this year. Due to an error on my part only a few made it through the whole season. Below is a link to a pic of one. It may be too early to say with any certainty but it appears similar to the parent so far.

Do you think that I just got lucky or have I perhaps stumbled upon a tree that produces a decent percentage of seed that "comes true".


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 10:10PM
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This probably means that the parent trees were Atropurpurum. The only one of the red varieties of J. Maple that tend to grow close to the parent. It is my understanding the Blood Good does not. Also; I think you were lucky. I once grew 125 J.Maples from seed supposedly harvested from Atropurpurum stock and not one of them turned out to be a red leafed variety. Of course it is possible the seeds were misrepresented----who would do such a thing?----right?

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 2:46PM
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gnome_in_pa(Zone 6)


Thanks for the information. I intend to have another go at it next year, we'll see what happens then.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 10:05PM
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If you have a good source for good J.Maple seeds utilize that source and grow as many of the littel boogers as you can. You can always turn around and sell the ones you don't want and the diversity of results you will get is fascinating.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 8:27AM
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I am very surprised, vane, that none of the 125 maples germinated true to type, which characteristics would place it under the name 'specie'. A cultiva is either a sport or a hybrid created by nature or man and quite often is sterile (not producing seeds) or producing seeds which never germinate. If they do make seeds then the seedlings will show much variation, though some may become true to type. I have a specie Palmatum Athropurpurum whose seedlings are true to type nearly 100%.
AS far as I know Bloodgroup is not a specie, so it must be a sport or hybrid. That explains why the it is sold as a stem-grafted plant and not on its own roots.I mentioned earlier there are 600 varieties of J. Maples, majority of which are cultivars.
When we say 'red' J. Maple, often the color is not a true red but a purplish red or dark scarlet especially if it is the specie Atropurpurum. One example of a truely red leaf J. Maple is the cutivar called chishio, its leaves remaining red in summer and its red tone deepens in autumn.
The family name of all maples in the world is Aceraceae, then its genus, Acer or Diteronia; under Acer then you have the Section and Series, like the palmatum. Under the series we come to the specie, under which we then have the sub-specie. Most of the Japanese maples we come across belong to the largest group Series Pamata. In this Series the 2 largest and common species are A. japonica and A. palmatum. Also we are familiar with the A. palmatum dissectum where the leaf is fernlike and either appearing in green or red (A. palmatum dissectum atropurpurum). This red specie has given rise to most red dissectum in the nursery like Crimson Queen, Ever Red,Inaba Shidare and a host of lesser known red dissectum.
The third well known species of palmata is the 'Full Moon' Maple and its fall color is bright red or translucent scarlet red. It has large green to bluish green leaves in summer, 7 and 9 lobes per leaf and belongs to A.japonicum under the specie aconitifolium.
New seedlings give much interest and may become new hybrids but have no registered names yet. One example is red leafed palmatum. It basic leaf color is a strong maroon or black red and has a varigation of crimson, which sometimes appear as specks or in large patches covering even a entire half lobe. I have only seen pictures of it and not yet in the nursery.

Outside of Japan we have other Genus maples native to the country, like in China where the leaf form is nowhere near the normal maple shape and the fall coloration is less marked. In the NW continent we have our own vine maple, which comes into the Series Palmata Vine Maple and its specie group is A. circinatum. England can only claim one native maple i.e. the Hedge Maple, which grows into a bushy tree maybe 12 feet high or if trimmed in a row makes a good dense hedge.
'Amur Maple' which hails from Europe has green leaves looking more like a beech than a maple, but its autumn red color is most outstanding.
The Acers have become so numerous and complex that taxonomists in the world are splitting hairs in their claim of classification. The interrelationship of acers within the series become important when you move into propagation by grafting. Varieties within the same specie are most compatible when it comes to cambium union and the crown becomes impossible to differentiate as the plant matures. However we have known of other cases of successful grafts of acers outside its own section, but this is rare.
The best way to decide if a particular plant is a maple is to look at the fruit, which must be twin blade with a seed in each blade, called 'samara'. When it is fully ripened, the blade falls n spins like a helicopter blade, much to the delight of children in my grandson's pre-school class during his show n tell period.
I love J. maples and often visit my friend's farm of 2 acres, planted mostly with J. maples. When planted in masses its autumn cloration is spectacular and out of this world. I hope this note offers some insight into the wonders and complexity of the term Japanese maples.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 1:45PM
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Yes I have read Vertrees as well.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 5:49PM
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In November 2005 I collected seeds from 12 maples (small and medium sized trees)with glorious autumn colours on Mount Takao outside Tokyo. They are probably all Acer palmatum. Once back in Sweden I planted them in 3 trays with potting soil and left them outside to stratify during the winter. 2 trays germinated and grew during 2006 while one did not. It will get another winter's stratification. This spring 2007 I see a difference between the strongest and weakest growing trees, however, even though I know I took seeds from 12 different trees, the leaves all look the same shape at this stage. How long does it take before they differentiate into identifiable types? 2 or 3 growing seasons?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 2:09PM
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I need a lot of help I have red maple bonsai seeds I did what the instruction hand book said to do. I put them in the pot so far no sprouts HELP me what am i doing wrong!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 11:59PM
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I am looking for seed.5 to 10 seeds each.This is for my own garden and home landscape use.Would love a verity of color.Red,Gold,Orange,Variegated. I love them all
Red Dragon
Crimson Queen
Red EMperor
any laceleaf ,weeping and or variegated
Thanks for any seeds or help

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 12:31AM
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