Varieties of Japanese Maples

Updated February 21, 2017

Japanese maple, Acer palmatum, is a deciduous native of China, Korea and Japan. The tree is called momiji in Japan and some varieties grow as tall as 25 feet. Japanese maples have red, green or variegated foliage and there are more than 400 varieties of the tree. The choice of variety depends upon the space available and preferred leaf colour. Popular varieties of the Japanese maple include Acer palmatum bloodgood, Acer palmatum nishiki gawa, and Acer palmatum osakazuki.

Acer Palmatum Bloodgood

Bloodgood is a bushy variety of the Japanese maple, which has purple foliage and red stems. The fruit and flowers of the tree are also red. These colours change to a deep red during the fall. The tree reaches a maximum height of 10 feet. Bloodgood is a good choice as an accent plant for the gateways and patios. The tree is slow-growing and thrives in part shade and develops a very well-established form. Bloodgood is often multi-trunked with a tiered, round crown.

Acer Palmatum Nishiki Gawa

Nishiki gawa is often referred to as pine bark because of the tendency of the tree to develop a very rough, furrowed bark quite similar to the pine tree as it ages. The foliage is green during spring and summer and changes to shades of orange during fall. The tree produces red winged seeds during late spring. Nishiki gawa has an upright, vigorous growth and reaches a mature height of 10 to 15 feet. The tree thrives in sun to partial shade and can be grown directly from seeds sowed outdoors in fall. Nishiki gawa prefers a mildly acidic to neutral soil and has an average water requirement.

Acer Palmatum Osakazuki

Osakazuki is a larger, slow-growing variety of the Japanese maple that can grow up to 19 feet in height. The tree has deeply divided, large olive green leaves, which change to a bright red colour during fall. Osakazuki is planted as a specimen tree in landscapes and thrives in part shade locations. This variety of Japanese maple is considered one of the most outstanding maples for fall colour. Osakazuki is more scorch-resistant than other varieties of Japanese maples since it is less susceptible to wind and drought damage.

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About the Author

Irum Sarfaraz is a freelance writer with over 20 years of nonfiction writing experience in newspaper op-eds and magazine writing, book editing, translating and research writing. Sarfaraz is originally from Pakistan and has been published in both American and Pakistani newspapers and magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, and diplomas in nonfiction writing.