Crimson Queen Japanese Maple Trees

Small Tree for Dappled Shade

As my picture shows, Crimson Queen has a cascading habit. It's a type of Japanese maple.
Photo: Crimson Queen has a cascading habit. David Beaulieu

Plant Taxonomy of Crimson Queen Japanese Maple:

Acer palmatum dissectum 'Crimson Queen' is the rather long botanical name that plant taxonomy assigns to this plant. The cultivar name refers to the spring and fall color of its leaves.

Plant Type:

Characteristics of Crimson Queen:

Some Crimson Queen Japanese maple trees can grow to be 8'-10' at maturity, with a slightly greater spread. Other types (namely, with a lower graft) will stay shorter. The plant exhibits a weeping form. The "dissectum" in its botanical name refers to the fact that it bears dissected leaves. In terms of color, the leaves can go through as many as four phases:

  1. A bright reddish-purple when they first emerge in spring
  2. A darker red (burgundy) later in spring
  3. Green (or at least a considerable amount of green mixed in) in summer (especially if exposed to a lot of sunlight)
  4. A return to a bright reddish-purple in fall

Sun and Soil Requirements:

While this plant is listed as being for full sun or partial shade, the ideal location may be dappled shade. Some sellers describe it as tolerant of full sun, but many growers (particularly in hot climates) report leaf scorch due to excessive sunlight. Grow it in a well-drained soil.

Planting Zones for Crimson Queen Japanese Maple:

Planting zones 5-8 are the recommended zones for the plant.

Uses in Landscaping:

Crimson Queen is typically used as a specimen. Because of its relatively small size, it is suitable for landscaping in small spaces. People love the look of this plant cascading over the edge of a backyard water feature, but remember that its soil must be well-drained.

Problems for Crimson Queen Japanese Maple:

This is a fairly delicate plant. I already mentioned the preference for dappled shade, a condition which many growers struggle to find in their landscapes. You may also wish to protect it from wind damage, to be on the safe side; at the very least, try to locate it in a somewhat sheltered area.

But for those landscaping in climates at the northern end of its range, perhaps the biggest problem faced is damage from a frost or a freeze. Unfortunately, such growers may encounter a challenge, then, at each end of the growing season:

  • In spring, a frost or freeze may damage the new foliage
  • While in autumn, the cold may mar the otherwise splendid fall foliage

As someone landscaping in zone 5, I've found that all the different types of Japanese maples I've grown are susceptible to this autumn damage, especially. It's very disappointing: all summer you anticipate the fall color your specimen will morph into, only to have its appearance ruined during an October cold snap. While the plant itself is not harmed, the most exposed leaves will turn a light brown and shrivel up.

Outstanding Features of Crimson Queen:

This is one of the prettiest of the dwarf trees. Its dissected leaves give you a great option if you're seeking a fine texture (perhaps to contrast with a specimen of coarser texture). This can be a good fall-foliage tree, and the cascading habit offers some winter interest. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, Crimson Queen is one of those sought-after plants that will grow under black walnuts.

Pruning, Other Care Tips:

If you find that you have to prune Crimson Queen, pruning can be done in winter when the plant is dormant. Reasons you might have to prune it include:

  • To keep it from rubbing up against the branches of adjacent plants or a structure
  • To avoid letting the bottommost branches come into contact with the ground

My own plant came with a stake attached to it to keep the main part of the trunk somewhat straight, and I have left this stake in place. Others choose to remove the stake and allow the plant to cascade more fully.

More Information:

Propagation is generally achieved through grafting.

The reports of others to the contrary notwithstanding, I find that these Japanese maples are one of the plants damaged by rabbits in my landscaping.

Other types of Japanese maple trees include 'Bloodgood' and a variegated kind: 'Harriet Waldman'.