Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Free trees

When we built the house, the city offered us two free trees. If we'd got the application straight in, there was a chance we could have had them in March 2012, a couple of months later, but the deadline was the end of January so we had to be quick. We weren't quick, and a year later we missed the deadline, again, so it's only now that the trees have arrived. 

There were several choices, with translations below.

Sarusuberi Lagerstroemia Indica or Crepe Myrtle

Grows to 6 metres. Flowers in August.
Originally from China.

When I hear this name I always think it must be a transliteration of Salzberry, which of course does not exist. Saru means "monkey" and suberi means "slide" so it is a tree which monkeys slide down.

Hanamizuki  Benthamidia Florida, Flowering Dogwood

Grows up to 10 metres. Flowers from the end of April.
From Eastern US. Apparently the state flower of Virginia. 

Hana means "nose" and mizu means "water", so hanamizu usually refers to the liquid that runs from your nose. Not an immediately appealing name for a tree. I'm sure that's not what it means.

Shidekobushi Magnolia Stellata or Star Magnolia.

So that's what a magnolia is! I didn't know that. Heard the word loads of times and always wondered. 
Flowers late winter before the leaves come out. Grows to 5 or 6 metres in height.
This species is native to Japan.

Akamatsu Pinus Densiflora or Red Pine.  

That's a literal translation. Japanese Red Pine is a more natural translation. Or Korean Red Pine. Grows 20-35 metres.

Renge tsutsuji  Rhodedendron Molle subspecies Japonicum

I never knew "tsutsuji" was Rhodedendron! 
Grows 1-2 metres and flowers April to June. Since they are small we get two of these for one of the others.

Chishio kaede  ?

Seems to be a very local species of maple. Also known in Japanese as momiji. Also known in English as acer. Maybe acer is kaede and maple is momiji. My first guess was that etymologically speaking, the acer is Latin, and Kaede is the Japanese reading of the Chinese character. Without going into too many details, there are semantic similarities between words of Latin origin in English and words of Chinese origin in Japanese. Maple is English, while momiji seems to be Japanese, meaning "red leaves", although in some different dialect, as "red" is usually aka and "leaf" is ha

As usual, my first guess is largely wrong. Kaede, while written with a single Chinese character, is also Japanese, meaning "changing hand" from kaeru "change" and te "hand". I guess the leaves look like hands. Momiji is a more general word for changing colour, and applies to a whole host of things from vines to deer meat.

Apparently there are around 130 species of maple, mostly trees growing 10-45 metres high, but some shrubs. 

The Japanese maple, Acer Palmatum, grows 6-10 metres high and has 1,000 cultivars. Presumably the chishio kaede is one of these. chi means "blood" and shio means "salt" and in this case it does mean "blood and salt". When I googled it, most of the hits mentioned Matsumoto City, so it's clearly a very local species, or at least a local name.

There was a maple in the garden in the last house, and we brought a few of its baby seedlings, but none of them survived the short journey, or my clumsy gardening. 

In the end we chose one Hanamizuki and one Chishio Kaede. Now they've arrived we need to decide where to plant them quickly.