Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)
Acer palmatum is probably the most widely grown Japanese Maple in American home landscapes. It is a tree that usually grows to be 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide, but some varieties can go to 30 feet and many cultivars are much smaller, down to 6 to 10 feet. The shape of the Japanese Maple tree will vary greatly by variety. Within this group are many upright varieties and others can be described as have a low weeping form. Some weeping selections look best when they are allowed to branch to the ground. Be sure to clear all turf away from beneath the branches of these low growing types so the lawn mower will not damage the tree.
Some cultivars have green leaves, others have deep red, yellow or even variegated leaves. Fall color ranges from bright yellow through orange and red, and is often striking, even on trees grown in total shade. Some even have foliage that turns deep purple in the autumn before they fall to the ground. Even during the winter, the weeping versions show bare branches that make an interesting silhouette with their weeping habit and greenish color. Some cultivars can have multiple trunks that are grey and show nicely when lit up at night.
The leaves are somewhat small being from 1 ½ to 3 inches across and are shaped like the palm of a hand with deeply cut lobes, similar to fingers.. They usually have from 5 to 7 sharply pointed lobes that are often serrated. Japanese Maple flowers appear in spring in small, purplish-red hanging clusters. Somewhat inconspicuous, the flowers are more visible on Fullmoon Japan,ese Maples. As the season progresses they develop into small winged seeds.
Japanese Maple Choices -
Bloodgood is a vigorous upright grower with deep red to black-red foliage in both spring and summer. This is one of the taller growing Japanese Maples, eventually reaching a height of 15 feet. The branchlets are an interesting blackish red color. Fall color is bright crimson. Atropurpureum with season-long purpley-red leaves with five lobes, is the hardiest of all. Burgundy Lace has deeply lobed, finely serrated, deep burgundy red leaves give this Japanese Maple its name. This small tree takes on a very lacy appearance. Its bright green branchlets contrast nicely with the burgundy foliage. During the summer, the leaves take on a bronzy or greenish cast. Crimson Queen is the most graceful and beautiful of the Japanese Maples. The finely cut leaves are doubly lobed on all edges and retain their deep red color through the summer. Fall color is bright scarlet. The cascading form of this vigorous grower makes it an interesting accent plant. Sango Kaku has coral young stems and new growth, reddish tinged new leaves become summer light green and golden with red tinge in autumn. Versicolor has green leaves with white, pink and green variegation.