Discover the Beauty of Lace Leaf Maples

If you’re looking to add a touch of elegance and color to your landscape, laceleaf Japanese maples are the perfect choice. These unique trees come in a variety of colors and leaf shapes, offering a visual feast for the eyes. Their weeping mound shape adds an air of grace to any outdoor space, requiring minimal maintenance. Laceleaf maples thrive in full to partial sun, prefer moderate soil moisture, and require good drainage. Most varieties are hardy in USDA Zones 5-9. However, it’s important to note that their delicate leaves can scorch if exposed to excessive heat or direct afternoon sun.

Laceleaf and Weeping Japanese Maple Varieties

Laceleaf and weeping Japanese maples encompass a range of species, including Acer palmatum, Acer japonicum, Acer shirawanum, Acer buergerianum, and Acer sieboldiaum, with Acer palmatum being the most dominant. The name “Acer” is derived from the botanical term for maple, while “palmatum” refers to the palmate shape of the leaves. It’s worth noting that not all laceleaf maples are weeping, and not all weeping maples are laceleaf. Some laceleaf varieties have an upright form, such as Acer palmatum ‘Seiryu,’ which boasts bright green leaves and a distinct vase-shaped canopy with stunning fall colors. On the other hand, weeping forms like Acer palmatum ‘Ryusei’ showcase cascading waterfall-like green star-shaped foliage.

Laceleaf maples come in a wide array of colors, with the popular red and burgundy forms being the most commonly seen. However, there is an abundance of other captivating colors to choose from. The green varieties, which are the oldest historically, offer incredible fall colors. With the introduction of new cultivars, laceleaf maples now exhibit a dazzling array of colors throughout the seasons, including vibrant spring, summer, and fall colors, as well as multicolored varieties.

Green Laceleafs – Spectacular Fall Color

  • Acer palmatum ‘Viridis’: This variety is known as the first green-leafed laceleaf maple. Its green leaves can develop streaks of orange hues when exposed to the hot sun. In the fall, ‘Viridis’ transforms into a breathtaking display of rich golden and yellow colors. This cultivar competes with ‘Waterfall’ and ‘Otto’s Dissectum’ in terms of climate tolerance and fall color presentation.
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Acer palmatum 'Viridis'

  • Acer palmatum ‘Waterfall’: Sporting long flowing locks of dissected green leaves on pendulous branches that resemble a waterfall, ‘Waterfall’ is a sight to behold. It is more resistant to sunburn than ‘Viridis’ and maintains its green color better. In the fall, it puts on a stunning show with golden foliage tinged with hues of orange and red.

Acer palmatum 'Waterfall'
Acer palmatum 'Waterfall'

  • Acer japonicum ‘Green Cascade’: This graceful maple features horizontal to cascading branches and beautiful burgundy flowers in the spring. Its dissected green leaves provide a stunning contrast to the flowers. In the fall, the foliage transitions to shades of yellow and red, making it an ideal choice for Japanese gardens or peaceful sections of your landscape.

Acer japonicum 'Green Cascade'
Acer japonicum 'Green Cascade'

  • Acer shirasawanum ‘Green Snowflake’: With its weeping habit and small, finely dissected green leaves, ‘Green Snowflake’ adds a touch of elegance to any landscape. During the fall, its leaves turn a vibrant yellow and orange. This variety combines the best characteristics of both palmatum and shirasawanum maples, with unique leaf shapes and red flowers.

Acer shirasawanum 'Green Snowflake'
Acer shirasawanum 'Green Snowflake'

Red Laceleafs

  • Acer palmatum ‘Inabe shidare’: This prized laceleaf variety stands out with its purplish-red leaves that intensify in color throughout the summer. Unlike other dark-colored maples, it retains its color and does not turn bronze. In the fall, the leaves turn a stunning shade of crimson, complementing the striking red leaf stalks.

Acer palmatum 'Inabe shidare'
Acer palmatum 'Inabe shidare'

  • Acer palmatum ‘Red Dragon’: Considered the best laceleaf maple for maintaining its deep purplish-red color regardless of sun exposure, ‘Red Dragon’ is a showstopper. Its new foliage emerges red and darkens to a beautiful purplish-red tone. The compact, cascading mound boasts a bright, fiery red fall color.

Acer palmatum 'Red Dragon'
Acer palmatum 'Red Dragon'

  • Acer palmatum ‘Red Filigree Lace’: If you’re looking for the most delicate and finely-branched red laceleaf maple, ‘Red Filigree Lace’ is the perfect choice. The leaves of this variety are so thin that they resemble a spider web. It has excellent color retention, maintaining its bright red/burgundy hues throughout the summer and early fall before dropping its leaves.
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Acer palmatum 'Red Filigree Lace'

  • Acer palmatum ‘Red Feathers’: Similar to ‘Red Filigree Lace’ but with a faster and denser growth habit, ‘Red Feathers’ offers an improved version of its delicate counterpart. However, for those seeking the most delicate appearance, ‘Red Filigree Lace’ might still be the winner. Why not try both and enjoy the best of both worlds?

Acer palmatum 'Red Feathers'

  • Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Atropurpurea’ or ‘Atropurpureum’: These laceleaf maples are unique because they are seedlings, not exact copies of their parents. They typically display purplish-red hues and have good fall color, turning bronze-green before revealing their beautiful autumn shades.

  • Acer palmatum ‘Crimson Queen’: Known as the queen of dissected maples, ‘Crimson Queen’ boasts a majestic presence. Its palmate leaves, with 7-9 lobes, emerge red in the spring, darken to purplish-red in summer, and transform into a brilliant crimson in the fall. However, please note that ‘Crimson Queen’ is susceptible to certain plant diseases and pests.

Acer palmatum 'Crimson Queen'

Bicolor Varieties

  • Acer palmatum ‘Dr. Brown’: This laceleaf maple stands out with its lobed leaves and light bronze-green color, accented by yellow variegation. In the fall, the foliage transitions to beautiful shades of yellow and orange. ‘Dr. Brown’ grows slowly to form an attractive mound shape.

Acer palmatum 'Dr. Brown'
Acer palmatum 'Dr. Brown'

  • Acer palmatum ‘Jeddeloh Orange’: Featuring fiery streaks of orange and red, ‘Jeddeloh Orange’ provides a stunning display of colors. In summer, the leaves transition to green and burgundy, followed by red hues with orange-red margins in the fall. The winter brings copper-colored twigs, adding extra appeal to this variety.

Acer palmatum 'Jeddeloh Orange'
Acer palmatum 'Jeddeloh Orange'

Laceleafs with Special Seasonal Colors

  • Acer palmatum ‘Otto’s Dissectum’: This weeping and mounding laceleaf maple offers a delightful display of orange-green foliage in the spring, which transforms to green in the summer. Finally, in the fall, the leaves turn a vibrant shade of bright orange.

Acer palmatum 'Otto's Dissectum'
Acer palmatum 'Otto's Dissectum'

  • Acer palmatum ‘Baldsmith’: If you’re seeking a maple that truly shines during the late summer heat, ‘Baldsmith’ is an excellent choice. Its foliage glows with a combination of light green at the core and blushy pink at the edges. In the fall, it transitions to beautiful shades of yellow and orange, brightening up the approaching darkness of autumn.

Acer palmatum 'Baldsmith'
Acer palmatum 'Baldsmith'

  • Acer palmatum ‘Watnong’: Similar to ‘Baldsmith’, ‘Watnong’ features bright pink-red leaves in the spring, which gradually transition to green in the summer. However, in late summer, it surprises with a reappearance of green and pink leaves. The fall brings a beautiful red foliage display, making it an enchanting addition to any landscape.
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Acer palmatum 'Watnong'
Acer palmatum 'Watnong'

Laceleaf Varieties Where Color Is Enhanced by Shade

  • Acer palmatum ‘Toyama Nishiki’: This laceleaf maple thrives in part shade and is susceptible to sunburn when exposed to full sun. ‘Toyama Nishiki’ features red-green foliage with pink and cream variegation, with each leaf showcasing a unique color saturation. Its striking appearance adds a touch of whimsy to any garden.

Acer palmatum 'Toyama Nishiki'
Acer palmatum 'Toyama Nishiki'

  • Acer palmatum ‘Baby Lace’: If you’re searching for the most delicate and finely dissected laceleaf maple, ‘Baby Lace’ is an ideal choice. Its slow-growing nature and small leaf size add a gentle softness to any landscape. In the spring, the reddish-orange foliage gradually transitions to a bronze-green color with purple-burgundy margins in the summer.

Acer palmatum 'Baby Lace'
Acer palmatum 'Baby Lace'

Broadleaf Weeping Japanese Maples

  • Acer palmatum ‘Jiro shidare’: This cascading and mounding Japanese maple, not classified as a laceleaf, features broad palmate leaves that start off yellow-green in the spring and transition to green by summer. In the fall, it presents a stunning display of reds and oranges. Over time, its young growth pushes upward before gracefully cascading.

Acer palmatum 'Jiro shidare'
Acer palmatum 'Jiro shidare'

  • Acer palmatum ‘Ryusen’ (synonym ‘Ryusei’): Named after the Japanese nurseryman Kahuzara Kobayashi, ‘Ryusen’ maple features distinctive star-shaped leaves with 5 or 7 tips. It starts with bright green foliage in the spring and summer, which later turns red and orange in the fall. The cascading habit of its leaves and branches inspired its name, which means “flowing” or “falling water.”

Acer palmatum 'Ryusen' (synonym 'Ryusei')

Now that you have an overview of the stunning variety of laceleaf maples available, you can choose the perfect specimens to enhance your landscape. Whether you’re seeking vibrant fall colors, delicate and finely dissected leaves, or cascading branches, laceleaf maples are sure to captivate and delight. Explore the beauty and elegance of these enchanting trees and create a truly remarkable outdoor oasis.

For more information and to browse a wide selection of laceleaf maples, visit the Ames Farm Center.