|“||When you knew that it was over were you suddenly aware? That the autumn leaves were turning to the colour of her hair!||”|
–The Windmills Of Your Mind,
The Acer Rubrum Linnaeus, also known as the Red Maple Tree, Swamp Maple Soft Maple, also known by the name Kaede, is a beautiful deciduous tree with stunning foliage first identified in North America but also popular from medieval times in Japan.
In Elfen Lied, both the main protagonist and the central location and home have their name provided by this wonder of nature. Much like the depictions of Lucy's hair, its color varies between a pinkish red and a much deeper red. The main variety known in Japan is a more compact, decorative tree that is still as known worldwide as the larger, faster-growing type.
Parallels with Elfen Lied
The choice of maple tree for the main character's name draws interesting parallels not only to Lucy but the Diclonius as a whole:
- Acer, the Genus name, means "sharp" in Latin, and refers to the blade-shaped leaves and their lobes. In a way, the irregular paths of the Maple Leaf's lobes give it 'horns' and are indeed unique to this type of tree. Acer is also the root of the term "acerbic," which can be used to describe Lucy's original personality as well as the vectors Diclonii possess.
- Acer Rubrum is extremely adaptable and flexible once replanted, but its roots can cause underground infrastructure damage. This aspect can be likened to Lucy's adaptability in new environments (i.e. Nyu), and the mayhem she inadvertently brings to the lives of those in the Maple House. The tree is also considered an invasive species in some areas, not unlike the Diclonius.
- The tree has a relatively fast growth rate, similar to the quick growth rate of the Silpelits. The more ornamental Japanese Red Maple, known for the traditional red Acer Palmatum as well as the purplish-tinged Acer Atropurpureum has a slow to a medium rate of growth, however. Perhaps unintentionally, the two main types prevalent in Japan seem to reflect the hair color of the two most famous Diclonius characters, at least in the manga for Nana, with the reddish hue keeping with Lucy's anime hair coloration.
- Acer Rubrum is fast-growing and larger, while the Acer Palmatum and Acer Atropurpureum manage more efficiently and fit better into landscaping needs. Finally, and least likely to have been on the author's mind, though we cannot know for certain, is the harvesting of wood and sap from Acer Rubrum, echoing the similar treatment of most of the imperfect clones of Mariko Kurama distantly.
- One feature common to all varieties of Red Maple Tree is they are at their most beautiful in the autumn when their leaves are at their most brilliant. This feature could be in keeping with the phases of Lucy's life. With her death in late winter, her calmest and happiest time would have been the six months following Mariko's death, when Lucy had in essence vanished. Nyu lived in peace and happiness with the only family she had ever known, a family even Lucy came to hold dear (despite some very rough patches) almost as much as she did Kouta.
- The tree yields twin seeds bound at their tips to a long, drooping stems. The seeds ripen in late spring and have attached wings that are up to one inch in length.
- While the kanji symbol 楓 is used to represent the term/name "Kaede" (ex: 楓の木 or 楓の樹 ), it appears that the symbol is used to refer to maple trees in general, as katakana symbols are used to refer to particular tree species in Japanese.