25 Popular Japanese Maple Varieties With Great Foliage

Weeping, Dwarf, and Full-Sized Maples for Your Landscape

Japanese maple crimson queen tree with orange leaves on branches hanging across trunks and sunlight

The Spruce / Loren Probish

Japanese maple tree varieties are prized for their delicate and colorful foliage throughout the growing season and autumn. With over a thousand of varieties, it is a smallish species, with mature heights of 4–30 feet, depending on the cultivar. Several dwarf varieties stay small and can be trained as bonsai, such as 'Geisha Gone Wild' and 'Coonara Pygmy.'

Although the tree blooms in spring, it's the palmate leaves with five-, seven-, or nine-toothed finger-like leaves that offer the real appeal. The foliage offers striking color throughout the growing season, becoming even more beautiful with the fall color change. ‘Sango Kaku’ is prized as one of the prettiest Japanese maple trees for its changing foliage but also bright coral bark, which gives this tree its striking contrast all year round.

The many different kinds of Japanese maples include Acer palmatum, Acer japonicum, and Acer pictum; they are all part of the Sapindaceae (soapberry) family. They are suitable for USDA hardiness zones 5–8, though a few can brave zone 4 if planted in protected locations. Japanese maples should be planted in full to partial sun and in well-drained soil. In zones 7–8, they can benefit from planting in partial shade or dappled sunlight to protect the leaves from leaf scorch in the summer heat.

Many popular cultivars produce the familiar red foliage, such as one of the most popular Japanese trees, 'Bloodgood.' But others provide brilliant green or gold tones—and even bicolor leaves. While there are many ways to select a Japanese maple, leaf color is why most people plant this tree.

These 25 Japanese maples are all great options, offering foliage ranging from red and yellow to green also featuring different growth habits and tree heights.

  • 01 of 25

    'Bloodgood' (Acer palmatum atropurpureum 'Bloodgood')

    Japanese maple 'Bloodgood' tree with reddish-purple leaves on branch

    The Spruce / Loren Probish

    'Bloodgood' is one of the most popular Japanese maple cultivars. It achieves a maximum size of 20 feet high with a similar spread, making it just the right size for patio landscaping. The leaves are reddish-purple in summer but tend to turn greener in full sun. At fall foliage time, the leaves deepen into crimson red. The word "atropurpureum" in the scientific name refers to a plant with dark reddish-purple foliage.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 15–20 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 02 of 25

    'Coonara Pygmy' (Acer palmatum 'Coonara Pygmy')

    Acer palmatum 'Coonara Pygmy'

    UBC Botanical Garden

    This dwarf cultivar grows only about six feet high. Bright-green spring leaves develop a yellowish cast in summer and then turn a deep pink-red in fall. The 'Coonara Pygmy' was developed from a "witch's broom" deformity found on a Japanese maple growing in Australia.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 6–9
    • Height: 3–6 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 03 of 25

    'Crimson Queen' (Acer palmatum dissectum 'Crimson Queen')

    Japanese maple 'Crimson Queen' tree branches with weeping lace-like green and bronze colored leaves

    The Spruce / Loren Probish

    'Crimson Queen' is a small specimen, reaching a height of 8–10 feet and a spread of 10–12 feet. This petite monarch has a pleasing weeping habit and dissected leaf type. It has dark-red summer leaves that mature to a crimson hue. Fall color is often a combination of yellow, red, purple, and bronze. When you see the word "dissectum" in the scientific name of a Japanese maple, it refers to foliage that's deeply cut, with a lacy texture. Such plants are sometimes referred to as "lace leaf" or "threadleaf" maples.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 8–10 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 04 of 25

    'Red Dragon' (Acer palmatum dissectum 'Red Dragon')

    'Red Dragon'

    Simon McGill / Getty Images

    'Red Dragon' is a small cultivar with striking reddish-purple foliage that transforms into bright crimson in the fall. This tree has an upright, pendulous growth habit and makes a spectacular mounding plant in any landscape. It also works well as a container tree.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 6–8 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 5 of 25 below.
  • 05 of 25

    'Garnet' (Acer palmatum dissectum 'Garnet')

    Acer 'Garnet'

    Sue Taylor / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    'Garnet' is another lace-leaf Japanese maple with red leaves. The foliage remains reddish-orange throughout the growing season and then fades to purplish-green in late summer before turning bright red in fall. This cultivar grows to a mature spread of about 9–12 feet.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 9–12 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 06 of 25

    'Full Moon' (Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum')

    Full Moon Maple with chartreuse leaves

    Piekiełko Szkółka Drzew / Wikimedia Commons

    The 'Full Moon' or 'Aureum' cultivar of A. shirasawanum has showy bright-yellow foliage rather than the bright green found in the parent plant. The foliage gradually deepens to yellow-green in summer, and then turns orange-red in fall. It often grows as a multistemmed shrub but can also be trained with a single trunk as a small tree.

    • Native Area: Japan
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–7
    • Height: 16–20 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 07 of 25

    'Autumn Moon' (Acer shirasawanum 'Autumn Moon')

    Acer 'Autumn Moon'

    Krzysztof Golik / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    The 'Autumn Moon' cultivar of A. shirasawanum is one of the few Japanese maples that's hardy into the lower portions of USDA hardiness zone 4. It has yellow-orange spring foliage that brightens into chartreuse for summer. It then turns a brilliant reddish-orange in the fall.

    • Native Area: Japan
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–8
    • Height: 6–10 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 08 of 25

    'Beni-Kawa' (Acer palmatum 'Beni-kawa')

    Acer 'Beni-kawa'

    Piqsels

    'Beni-Kawa' is an A. palmatum cultivar that tops out at about 15 feet and is known for having colorful red bark. Soft, green spring leaves gradually turn yellow-gold through summer and into fall. It grows slowly, remaining under 7 feet high until it's about 10 years old.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–9
    • Height: 12–15 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 9 of 25 below.
  • 09 of 25

    Coral Bark Maple (Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku')

    'Sango-kaku'

    David J. Stang / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Coral bark maple is a full-size cultivar, growing to 25 feet in height, though it's quite slow-growing. This is another type of Japanese maple with red bark that can provide good winter interest. The leaves are yellow-green when they emerge, deepening into yellow-gold by fall. In the landscape, this tree should be positioned where the attractive winter bark can be appreciated.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 20–25 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 10 of 25

    'Filigree' (Acer palmatum dissectum 'Filigree')

    Filigree

    Keith Szafranski / Getty Images

    'Filigree' is a small cultivar of the A. palatum dissectum species, and it has the familiar lacy leaves of others in the dissectum group. The leaves are solid green through summer, turning golden in fall. The branches create a mounded shape with a cascading habit that may droop to the ground.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 4–6 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 11 of 25

    'Butterfly' (Acer palmatum 'Butterfly')

    Acer 'Butterfly'

    Henryr10 / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    'Butterfly' is perhaps the most common of all variegated A. palmatum cultivars. It's a shrubby tree with a rather irregular growth habit, but the green leaves have white margins and are often twisted in a manner unlike any other Japanese maple. The white portions of the leaves turn magenta or red in the fall. The unusual leaves make this an interesting bonsai plant. This cultivar received an Award of Merit in 1977 by the Boskoop Horticultural Society

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 6–8
    • Height: 7–12 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 12 of 25

    'Peaches and Cream' (Acer palmatum 'Peaches and Cream')

    'Peaches and Cream'

    Robmm21 / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    'Peaches and Cream' is a dense, shrubby cultivar that is sometimes wider than it is tall. It has variegated creamy-white leaves with dark green veins. The foliage turns yellow in fall. It's slow-growing and has been known to live for as long as 60 years. Acer palmatum 'Peaches and Cream' was discovered as a seedling in 1980 at Yamina Rare Plants in Australia.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5b–8
    • Height: 8–10 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 13 of 25 below.
  • 13 of 25

    'First Ghost' (Acer palmatum 'First Ghost')

    Acer palmatum 'First Ghost'

    Amazing Maples / Flickr

    'First Ghost' is a relatively small upright tree, topping out at about 7 feet wide with a 4-foot spread. In spring, creamy white leaves are tipped with red, featuring prominent dark-green veins running throughout the leaves. In summer, the leaves shift to various shades of green and then turn yellow and orange in fall.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 10–12 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 14 of 25

    'Geisha Gone Wild' (Acer palmatum 'Geisha Gone Wild')

    Acer palmatum 'Geisha Gone Wild'

    Gardenia.net

    'Geisha Gone Wild' is a sport of the popular 'Geisha' cultivar, one of the most spectacular of all variegated Japanese maples. 'Geisha Gone Wild' is a larger, hardier plant than 'Geisha.' In spring, the new leaves are hot pink and then age to green with flecks of white and pink in summer. They change to spectacular orange in fall. It's a slow grower, reaching 7 feet high in about 10 years (roughly one foot higher than 'Geisha').

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 5–7 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 15 of 25

    'Emperor One' (Acer palmatum 'Wolff')

    Acer palmatum 'Wolff'

    F.D. Richards / flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    Emperor One looks much like a 'Bloodgood' Japanese maple variety, but it's shorter and grows upright. It's a hardy variety, leafing out later in the spring than other Japanese maple trees. It has black-red bark with dark red foliage that turns scarlet red in autumn. Its leaves have a translucent quality with deeply incised toothed edges. It rarely suffers from pest damage. It grows 1 to 2 feet per year, capable of growing up to 15 feet at maturity.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–9
    • Height: 10-15 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 16 of 25

    Green Cascade (A. Japonicum 'Green Cascade')

    Acer Japonicum 'Green Cascade

    James Steakley / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    'Green Cascade' is an Acer japonicum Japanese maple variety or upright full moon maple small tree or multiple-trunk shrub that grows in zones 5 to 7. It is slightly more tolerant to cold than Acer palmatum and does not like hot southern summers. This tree prefers dappled shade and is prone to leaf scorch in full sun. Its leaves are rounded, palmate (like hands), and fern-like. The leaves turn yellow and red in the fall.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–7
    • Height: 10-20 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 17 of 25 below.
  • 17 of 25

    'Higasayama' (Acer Palmatum 'Higasayama')

    higasayama japanese maple acer palmatum leaves

    The Spruce / Peter Krumhardt

    This Japanese maple's leaves are beautiful from spring to fall. Its big claim to fame is its spring coloration. Its variegated coloration in the spring ranges from bright green, bright pink, creamy pink, and creamy ivory colors. In the fall, it turns orange and red. It grows upright and is a faster grower, usually growing 1 foot per year. For best coloration, place it in a dappled or filtered light location. This is one of the best Japanese maples for full sun, although too much sun will lessen its variegation in the summer.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 10-18 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 18 of 25

    'Hogyoku' (Acer Palmatum 'Golden Jewel of Fall')

    hogyoku japanese maple leaves yellow and green

    The Spruce / Peter Krumhardt

    'Hogyoku,' meaning "jewel," is also called the 'Golden Jewel of Fall' Acer palmatum Japanese maple variety. What makes this tree unique is its bright orange color in the fall. It's beautiful all season, starting with green leaves that are tinged with yellow, orange, and red. This Japanese maple variety can handle full sun better than other Japanese maples. Each palm-like leaf has seven serrated lobes. Keep this tree's soil moist, or use mulch around the base to prevent leaf scorch if it sits in full sun.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–9
    • Height: 15-18 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 19 of 25

    'Koto Ito Komachi' (Acer Palmatum 'Koto Ito Komachi')

    acer palmatum koto ito komachi

    UBC Botanical Garden

    The A. palmatum cultivar 'Koto Ito Komachi' miniature tree grows upright, but its string-like leaves make it feel like a weeping willow variety. It's a short, rounded tree, only about 4-6 feet tall. It grows slowly and prefers partial shade. It can grow in full sun but needs moist soil to prevent its leaves from shriveling. Its leaves start as light green, turning greener over time, then in fall, it displays yellow and orange foliage. As it naturally has a dwarf growth habit, it can be trained as a bonsai.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–9
    • Height: 4-6 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 20 of 25

    'Lion's Mane' (Acer palmatum 'Shishigashira')

    Bonsai Acer palmatum Shishigashira

    ivanoel28 / Getty Images

    This tree's naturally wrinkled or crinkled leaves make A. palmatum 'Shishigashira' or 'Lion's Mane' unique. This tree gives texture to any lawn with its curled, glossy green leaves that turn yellow, orange, and reddish in the fall. This shorter tree has dense branches, usually growing about 8 feet, although it can get taller. It is hardy in zones 6 to 9.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 6-9
    • Height: 8-12 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 21 of 25 below.
  • 21 of 25

    Osakazuki (Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki')

    Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki
    Acer Palmatum

    Jean-Pol GRANDMONT / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

    The 'Osakazuki' cultivar features intensely bright orange-red leaves in the fall. Each leaf is palmate or hand-like, but instead of five fingers, these leaves feature seven lobes or fingers with teeth-like edges. This tree has a rounded growth habit. It can be sited in full sun, resisting leaf scorch better than other Japanese maple varieties, but its coloration will be better if it's in a partial sun location. It can adapt to clay and sandy soils.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5-8
    • Height: Up to 25 feet tall
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 22 of 25

    Scolopendrifolium (Acer palmatum Scolopendrifolium)

    Acer palmatum Scolopendrifolium

    Steven Severinghaus / flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    'Scolopendrifolium' is also called 'Shinobuga Oka' or 'Linearilobum,' featuring long, narrow string-like green leaves with bright red stems, seed pods, and blossoms. It's sometimes called strap leaf maple for its whispy strip-like leaves with five pointy-tipped or sword-like edges. Its leaves turn shades of yellow, orange, and red in the fall. It grows slowly and lives and has about a 60-year lifespan.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5-9
    • Height: 12-15 ft. feet tall
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 23 of 25

    Seiryu

    Acer palmatum Seiryu

    Kirill Ignatyev / flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

    'Seiryu,' meaning "blue-green dragons," is a green lace-leaf maple or dissectum maple, meaning it has feathery leaves. Unlike other maples with lacey leaves, it grows upright and not weeping. It's a fast grower, usually growing about 10 feet tall, although it can grow up to 20 feet. It's prone to leaf damage if located in a full sun spot. Its foliage is bright green in spring and summer, turning golden yellow and red in the fall.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5-9
    • Height: 10-20 ft. feet tall
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 24 of 25

    Usugumo

    Acer palmatum 'Mono usugumo'

    Ed Jansen / flickr

    A. pictum 'Usugumo' is a rare painted leaf batwing Japanese maple. It emerges in spring with soft pink leaves with green and cream-colored mottling or speckling in the summer. It never grows taller than about seven feet. This slow-growing upright tree does best in zones 5 to 9 and is perfect for a small space or container.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5-9
    • Height: Up to 7 ft. tall
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 25 of 25 below.
  • 25 of 25

    Viridis

    Acer palmatum Viridis

    Mark Bolin / flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    'Viridis' has a weeping or cascading form with vivid green, finely cut lacey leaves that change to gold and crimson in the fall. This dwarf cultivar prefers dappled sun and can grow in a container, reaching 6 to 10 feet tall. You can train it to stay about 4 feet tall. Its leaves have deep lobes or finger-like projections with serrated edges.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5-8
    • Height: 6-10 ft.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade