Trees and Shrubs with Purple Leaves

One way to add zip and zest to a landscape is to use plants with purple leaves. Over the years, many cultivars of trees and shrubs have been developed to fill this need. Use the following plants with purple leaves to make your garden irresistible.

  • 01 of 09

    Barberries

    Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) 'Atropurpurea', November
    Vicki Gardner/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    Botanical name: Berberis thunbergii

    Barberries are shrubs that can add a pop to your garden. Pair it with lime green plants for an especially eye-catching display. These do have thorns, so be careful when planting in a yard where children will play.

    Barberry varieties with purple leaves include:

    • 'Bagatelle'
    • 'Concorde'
    • 'Helmond Pillar'
    • 'Royal Burgundy'
    • 'Royal Cloak'
  • 02 of 09

    Copper Beech

    The copper beech is a subspecies of Fagus sylvatica
    Image by Jenny Downing via Flickr Creative Commons

    Botanical name: Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea', 'Atropurpurea' or 'Atropunicea'

    Copper beech trees feature purple leaves and produce beechnuts, which are edible for wildlife and humans. The Kew Garden also notes that young leaves are edible.

    There is also a purple weeping beech - Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea Pendula'

  • 03 of 09

    Crabapples

    Crabapple tree
    work by Lisa Kling / Getty Images

    Botanical name: Malus sp.

    Crabapple trees will add color to the garden in all seasons with the flowers, fruits, and leaves. Some have fruit that is edible for humans as well as wildlife.

    For crabapples with purple leaves, some choices are:

    • 'Profusion'
    • 'Purple Prince'
    • 'Radiance'
    • 'Red Barron'
    • 'Royalty'
    • 'Thunderchild'
  • 04 of 09

    Elderberries

    The purple leaves of the Black Lace elderberry give a striking background for the pink flowers
    Image by amandabhslater via Flickr

    Botanical name: Sambucus nigra

    The fruits of elderberry shrubs can be eaten in foods like jams, jellies, syrups, pies, wine and brandy. They must be fully ripe before ingestion as they are poisonous before that point. Cordials and syrups are made from the flowers.

    Elderberries with purple leaves are:

    • 'Black Beauty'
    • 'Black Lace'
    • 'Purpurea'
    • 'Thundercloud'
    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09
    Japanese maple
    somnuk krobkum / Getty Images

    Botanical name: Acer palmatum

    The Japanese maple is a shrub or small tree that features distinctive leaves in shape and color.

    Some Japanese maple varieties that sport purple leaves:

    • 'Atropurpureum'
    • 'Burgundy Lace'
    • 'Ever Red'
    • 'Garnet'
    • 'Sherwood Flame'
    • 'Tanukeyama'
  • 06 of 09
    Purple leaf plum
    Maria Mosolova / Getty Images

    Botanical name: Prunus cerasifera

    For a tree that features purple leaves and small edible fruits, plant the purple leaf plum. These trees stay small, so they can fit in most yards. It lives around 20 years usually, so it is short-lived.

    Varieties include:

    • 'Hollywood'
    • 'Mt. St. Helens
    • 'Newport'
    • 'Pissardii'
    • 'Pendula'
    • 'Thundercloud'
    • 'Vesuvius'
  • 07 of 09
    Purple Leaf Sand Cherry
    mwms1916 / Flickr / CC By 2.0

    Botanical name: Prunus X cisterna

    The purple leaf sand cherry is a shrub or short tree that also features small purple fruits suitable for wildlife.

  • 08 of 09

    Purple Ninebark

    Purple Ninebark
    Neil Holmes / Getty Images

    Botanical name: Physocarpus opulifolius

    Ninebark is a shrub that features white or pink flowers. It can live as low as Zone 2, so it's a great choice for a landscape accent in cold regions.

    Some purple ninebark cultivars:

    • 'Center Glow'
    • Coppertina ('Mindia')
    • Diablo or Diabolo ('Monlo')
    • Summer Wine ('Seward')
    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09
    Purple Smoke Bush
    Photo © Wikimedia Selso

    Botanical name: Cotinus coggygria

    Smoke bush shrubs get their name because of the balls of unfertilized flowers. While there are green varieties available, many people choose the purple leaf varieties for use as a specimen in the yard.

    Smoke bushes with purple leaves:

    • 'Grace'
    • 'Nordine Red'
    • 'Notcutt's Variety'
    • 'Redsmoke'
    • 'Royal Purple'
    • 'Velvet Cloak'