Bloodgood Japanese Maple Tree Profile

A nice addition for a small yard

Bloodgood Japanese maple tree (Acer palmatum)

joe daniel price/Getty Images 

Bloodgood Japanese maple trees are wonderful plants that are ideal for smaller yards. Although their leaves can become even showier in autumn than in summer, their leaves are attractive for a full three seasons of the year.

  • Botanical Name: Acer palmatum atropurpureum
  • Common Name: Bloodgood Japanese maple
  • Plant Type: Deciduous tree
  • Sun Exposure: Part shade
  • Soil Type: Loamy
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Flower Color n/a
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-8 USDA
  • Native Area: Japan, Asia

Light

Dappled shade is considered the ideal exposure in most regions for this understory tree. Some growers give theirs a bit more shade than that and they generally do just fine. In hot climates, a somewhat shady location could help you avert disaster with these plants. The leaves tend to develop some green in them in summer if exposed to full sun.

Water

While you want to water the leaves and branches of this tree semi-regularly, only water the roots and soil when the weather has been hot and dry for an extended stretch. If the soil gets too saturated, it's bad for this tree.

Soil

Be sure to use a mulch on the soil at the beginning of the summer, to help retain moisture. The soil should drain well, and not be too clayey. Re-mulch every year at around the same time.

Fertilizer

Your Bloodgood maple will need to have fertilizer spread on its soil annually, around the same time you add the mulch.

Features of Bloodgood Japanese Maple Trees

This common tree may reach a height of 20 feet (with a similar spread) at maturity but is a slow grower. The spring leaves will give you as much pleasure as the leaves of any other season: During this period, the red in the foliage is sometimes at its brightest. The color becomes darker in summer (more of a burgundy, or even darker). In fact, atropurpureum means "dark purple," from the Latin words atro (black) and purpureum (purple).

The palmatum in the Latin name is also descriptive of the leaf. Foliage said to be "palmate" bears lobes that fan out from a central point. The reference is to the human hand, where fingers radiate out from the palm.

This foliage is displayed in a rounded canopy making up a branching pattern that is attractive in its own right. Rather than having a single leader, the plant will often have multiple sub-trunks. When samaras develop, they eventually redden and add some ornamental value to the plant.

Uses in Landscaping

Most people use them as specimen trees, although they are also used in bonsai. Fairly compact while still filling enough space to be showy, they help you strike just the right balance size-wise for landscaping in small spaces.

Leaf color is the best trait of this species. But the coloration is supplemented by other features that earn Bloodgood Japanese maples their valued specimen status.

First of all, the leaves are elegantly shaped. Secondly, the branching pattern will be showy enough to afford winter interest, assuming you've administered any corrective pruning that may be necessary.

Pruning

Care requirements are minimal. You can prune young plants to encourage a particular branching pattern. As they mature, pruning (to the extent that it is needed at all) can be reduced to removing branches that are rubbing against each other (and, as for all plants, dead branches).

Other than this light pruning, the main care tasks for established plants will be supplemental watering (as needed) and the application of mulch.

Alternative to Bloodgood Japanese Maples

Red is the most common color for Japanese maples, although there are also various choices in gold or green. These include, respectively, Golden Full Moon (Acer japonicum Aureum) and Beni-kawa (Acer palmatum Beni-kawa).

Gardeners craving something really different should try Acer palmatum Harriet Waldman (15 feet tall, same growing conditions as for Bloodgood). This Japanese maple is best known for bearing tricolored leaves in spring.

The new leaves (at the top of the tree) start out pink but eventually bear three colors: pink, white, and green. The leaves eventually lose this pink color as they age, and the white color fades, as well (occasionally, you'll find a leaf that is all white), leaving you with just green. The leaf color is not noteworthy again until the tree puts on its autumn hues of gold and orange (although fall color isn't reliable). 

Leaf Shape

Varieties of Japanese maples are sometimes loosely grouped by the appearance of their leaves. These categories can be based on color or on shape. A variety such as Crimson Queen is referred to as "dissected" because its leaves bear an especially lacy shape, with deep indentations along the leaf margins. If you're seeking the finest possible texture, it's a dissected type that you'd want to grow.

Bloodgood Japanese maples are a non-dissected type. But that doesn't mean that their leaf shape won't draw attention. Many liken the leaf shape to that on a marijuana plant. In fact, folks have come under suspicion of growing marijuana when, in fact, they were guilty of no more than growing Japanese maples.