During Monday's class with the students in the Horticulture Training Program, we visited the Nitobe Memorial Garden. Although I primarily teach the introductory plant sciences course, I also find the time to explain the history of the Garden and its components. Today's photographs are both cropped versions from the same source image, which was composed quickly and taken handheld after the tour was completed.
Acer palmatum, or Japanese maple, is native to both Japan and South Korea. The plant in today's photograph is possibly a cultivar, but if it is, that information has been seemingly lost sometime during the past five decades. Like many Japanese species, it was first described and published scientifically by Carl Peter Thunberg, a Swedish botanist who visited Japan for a span of 14 months in 1775-1776. It should be noted that Thunberg didn't have the luxury of traveling the countryside to botanize (due to restrictions on movements of foreigners in Japan), so his collections were limited to areas that typically had some measure of cultivation. Indeed, he published many species with the specific epithet japonica, though they were actually of Chinese origin and introduced in Japan. A search on the International Plant Names Index shows over 4700 records of species named by Thunberg, but there is some duplication of names; perhaps the true number is around 2000.
Read more about Japanese maples in gardening situations via the Royal Horticultural Society: Acer palmatum, a factsheet from North Carolina State University: Acer palmatum, and Missouri Botanical Garden: Acer palmatum.
Botany resource link: in case there isn't a BPotD entry published tomorrow for Hallowe'en, Spooky Orchids via the North American Orchid Conservation Center displays thirteen North American native orchid species with an accompanying blurb.