Are you awed by Japanese Maple trees? Have you come into the garden center to pick one? Did the varieties overwhelm you? Let us make it easier for you by explaining Japanese maple differences. Then, when you come in, you’ll know exactly what you want.

The native species of Japanese maple (native to Japan and other South Pacific Islands), Acer palmatum, grows moderately to a 20′ by 20′ multi-trunked tree. The leaves have 5-9 finely cut lobes giving them a more delicate look than other maples. Red spring leaves turn to green in the summer and blaze with yellow, orange and red in the fall. All do best with protection from drying winds and hot overhead afternoon sun. During their centuries of use in gardens around the world, gardeners have discovered and propagated those selections with unusual growth habits and bark patterns, as well as leaf color and shape. With hundreds of Japanese maple varieties available at garden centers, we feel a little simplification is in order.

  • Leaf Shape
    The variation Dissectum or Laceleaf Japanese Maple has leaves are deeply cut and finely lobed giving a lace cutout look. These varieties generally grow best in shady locations as the leaves easily burn or scorch. The leaves of non-Dissectum varieties are much less lacy. They resemble the leaves of native maples but are smaller and more deeply cut.  These are the two ends of the leaf-shape spectrum.  Many varieties lie somewhere in between.
  • Leaf Color
    The leaf color of different Japanese maples also varies. Many have red spring growth changing to green in the summer. However, some retain the red through the growing season. Some varieties have variegated leaves with white, cream, gold or pink. Variegated leaves burn easily in the sun but can revert to all green in too much shade. Green leaves tolerate more sun than red. Autumn is when Japanese maples really put on a show with a riot of blazing colors.
  • Tree Form
    Non-Dissectum varieties grow more quickly into upright forms. Some varieties remain less than 10′ tall but others can grow to 25′ tall by 20′ wide. Laceleaf (Dissectum) maples slowly develop a weeping form approximately 8-10′ tall and 8-12′ wide. However, ‘Seiryu’ is an exception, growing into an upright form.
 

Laceleaf (Dissectum)

Non-Dissectum

Location Requires more shade Tolerates less shade
Size Smaller 10-25′ tall depending upon variety
Tree Form Weeping Upright
Leaf Shape Lacy, fine cut Lobed
Leaf Color Red, green Red, green, variegated

Now that you have identified a suitable planting location and the type of Japanese maple you prefer, come see us and let our friendly staff show you the varieties that meet your requirements.  Japanese Maple Varieties that we typically keep in stock:

Variety Exposure 10 Yr Height Growth Habit Spring color Summer color Fall color Leaf type
Bihou Sun to part sun 7 ft Upright Yellow/Green Green Orange/Yellow Non-Dissectum
Bloodgood Sun to part sun 12 ft Upright Red Red Bright Red Non-Dissectum
Crimson Queen Sun to part sun 5 ft Weeping Red Red Bright Red Dissectum (Laceleaf)
Emperor I Sun to part sun 8 ft Upright Red Red Bright Red Non-Dissectum
Kurenai jishi Sun to part sun 3 ft Dwarf Brown/Red Brown/Red Yellow/Red Non-Dissectum
Moonfire Sun to part sun 8 ft Upright Red Red Bright Red Non-Dissectum
Oshio Beni Sun to part sun 15 ft Upright Orange-red Bronze-green Scarlet Non-dissectum
Peaches & Cream Part sun 8 ft Upright Cream/Rose Green/Rose Yellow Non-Dissectum
Pixie (Dwf Bloodgood) Sun to part sun 6-10 ft Upright Red Red Bright Red Non-dissectum
Purple Ghost Sun to part sun 8 ft Upright Red Red Orange/Red Non-Dissectum
Red Dragon Sun to part sun 4 ft Weeping Red Red Bright Red Dissectum (Laceleaf)
Rhode Island Red Sun to part sun 6 ft Upright Red Red Bright Red Non-Dissectum
Sango Kaku Sun to part sun 10 ft Upright Green Green Yellow/Orange Non-Dissectum
Seiryu Sun to part sun 10 ft Upright Green Green Orange Dissectum (Laceleaf)
Shishigashira Sun to part sun 6 ft Dwarf Green Green Orange Non-Dissectum
Skeeters Broom (Dwf Bloodgood) Sun to part sun 4-6 ft Upright Red Red Bright Red Dissectum (Laceleaf)
Tamuke yama Sun to part sun 5 ft Weeping Red Red Bright Red Dissectum (Laceleaf)
Source: Maplestone Ornamentals