ISSUE 8  |  The Postage Stamp Garden

5 Favorites: Colorful Japanese Maple Trees

February 24, 2016 4:00 AM

BY Janet Hall

Equally as enchanting with or without their leaves, Japanese maples may be the perfect ornamental tree.

The hardest part of putting a Japanese maple (its Latin name is Acer palmatum) into your garden is choosing among the hundreds of varieties. Available in a range of sizes from diminutive (suitable for balcony pots) to grand (for a dramatic focal point in a larger landscape, Japanese maples fall into two general categories: upright growers and weeping or cascading varieties.

Another consideration is leaf color, most commonly available in shades of green or red which change like mood rings between seasons, often to amazing golds, flaming reds. and bright oranges.

Here are five of our favorites:


Above: Fall brings colorful drama to the red leaves. A small to medium shrub, it grows from 3 to 5 feet in ten years. Photograph by Tony Hisgett via Wikimedia.

The Acer Palmatum ‘Crimson Queen‘ is a favorite for its lacy leaves and deep red color; a 20-inch-high tree is $139 from Pacific Coast Maples. 

Acer Palmatum Murasaki Kiyohime-gardenista

Above: A dwarf variety with a rounded form, Acer Palmatum ‘Murasaki Kiyohime‘ has light green leaves with red margins in spring. They turn green in summer and gold in fall; a tree in a 1-gallon pot is $38.99 from Mendocino Maples. Photograph via Gardener Direct, where the tree is available seasonally.


Above: Acer Palmatum ”Kagiri Nishiki” is grows slowly and is shaped like a vase. Photograph by Averater via Wikimedia.


Above: A popular hardy variety is Acer Palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’. It has red bark and leaves that change from yellow to green to gold seasonlly. A 30-inch tree is $139 from Pacific Coast Maples.


Above: Noted for its pink and green variegated leaves, the Acer Palmatum ‘Beni Schichihenge‘ is an upright variety of medium size (grows from 5 to 8 feet). A tree is $150 from Essence of Tree. Photograph via Connon Nurseries.