Acer palmatum ‘Shaina’

Note: Updated in June 2015 – See below.

‘Shaina’ is an absolutely gorgeous little Japanese maple that I bought in 2003 from Wayside Gardens. I remember they said it was found as a “witch’s broom” on much larger Japanese maple, ‘Bloodgood.’

Witch’s brooms are generally caused by disease and can be serious problems on many trees, but occasionally they appear due to genetic mutation, and ‘Shaina’ was one of those that turned out to be viable for propagation.

Here is Shaina in 2012:

Acer palmatum 'Shaina' at the peak of health.

Acer palmatum ‘Shaina’ at the peak of health.

‘Shaina’ was one of the plants I brought with me from my prior garden when I moved, and unfortunately, it wasn’t planted in a particularly good spot. Over the last few years, when I was too depressed to do any garden maintenance, it got to be partly overwhelmed by vinca (I hate vinca), and although it still leafed out, new shoots weren’t growing and the tips of the existing shoots were dying.

Recently I went looking for it and I couldn’t even find it. I was heartbroken – it is one of my favorite plants. So I ordered a new one.

Young 'Shaina' purchased this year.

Young ‘Shaina’ purchased this year.

Today I found what’s left of my original ‘Shaina.’ Apparently somebody stepped on it, because there’s hardly anything left – I pulled out least five tiny broken-off branches out of the damned vinca.

The poor little skeleton of my original 'Shaina.'

The poor little skeleton of my original ‘Shaina.’

I’m a little concerned about the new one, purchased from (Wayside is sold out). I didn’t expect it to be so upright. The old one was more spread out horizontally. But it’s too early to judge, really, and I can always prune it.

If the original has survived, I will dig it out, removing any vinca stuck in the rootball, and pot it for the summer, in the sun, and in fall it will go back into the ground, well mulched.

No matter what happens, I hope to have at least one ‘Shaina’ as a showpiece in my garden for years to come.

UPDATE June 5, 2015:

Concerned about the difference in shape between my old ‘Shaina’ and the new one, I posted a question on the “Mr. Maple” Facebook page:

“I purchased acer palmatum ‘Shaina’ from you early this year. I’m worried about the form of the plant I received – it’s distinctly upright instead of spreading laterally, as Shaina should. In fact, there are very few lateral branches. Should I prune this to promote lateral growth?”

Mr. Maple replied very promptly – and reassuringly:

“This tree is grafted from the very first original ‘Shaina’ which can be found at the University of Villanova in front of the department of Public Safety. I personally cut the scions and grafted it so I can assure you the cultivar is correct form :). Often juvenile growth can look different but this will make a small dense habit with great color. Sometimes dwarfs look more vigorous the first three years but form will be right. We love to go to the original source whenever possible to avoid any confusion on cultivars and this is the case with any of our 1 gallon ‘Shaina’.

“I would recommend not pruning the tree this year as it will change shapes quite a bit. Feel free to prune some next March/early May before it is in leaf to make any shape changes once the tree is more established in size and shape.”

Wow! How exciting to know that I have a plant that is just one generation from the original, and personally grafted by the nursery owner! I will follow his advice and update this blog as time passes with pictures.


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