May 2004
Japanese Red Maple
making my
morning beautiful.


Japanese Red Maple
Growth Chart
Detailed Facts
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Facts at a Glance
Acer palmatum - 'Bloodgood.'

Planted May 1999
Planting height: 5.7'
Planting trunk: 1.5"

2006 Update
7-yr height: 17'
7-yr trunk: 10"

Mature Height: 25 to 30'
Spread: 20'
Growth rate: Moderate
Form: Graceful, layered
Flowers: Purple, red
Fall color: Bright red
Hardiness zone: 5 - 8
Culture: Mostly sun

Best feature:
Color, shape

Worst problem:
Turns brown in summer

Do over? Yes

An Anvil Will Do


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A Tree Grower's Diary
'Bloodgood' Japanese Red Maple


Photographs and text by Julie Walton Shaver

May 2004


Key identifying features.. Deeply lobed, bright red leaves in spring and fall.

Common name.. Bloodgood Japanese Red Maple

Scientific name.. Acer palmatum - 'Bloodgood'

Mature height.. 25 to 30 feet, smaller in lower-numbered growing zones

Mature spread.. 20 feet

Form.. Graceful and layered, with a rounded crown; makes an excellent accent tree.

Fruit.. Striking red samaras add to the spring beauty of the tree, emerging just after the bright red leaves begin to darken in color near the end of spring.


Flowers.. Small purple to red flowers in early spring.


Foliage.. Deciduous; bright red leaves turn dark red to deep purple through summer, then back to a brilliant, clear red in fall. (Probably the brightest red fall color of any tree!) Leaves are simple, opposite, deeply lobed.

Growth rate.. Fast when young (up to two feet per year), slowing after about 10 years. (See the growth chart for pictures.)

Hardiness zones.. 5 through 8

Culture.. Grows best in full sun, but benefits from some afternoon shade on the hottest summer days. Ideally, the tree should be protected from winter wind, but it is actually quite a tough plant. This tree needs slow soakings the first two or three years to be kept evenly moist, and requires a well-drained, rich soil to thrive. Wet, soggy soil will kill the tree! But most losses occur when the newly planted trees are not given enough water. Spring and fall colors will be most attractive if planted in a full sun location, but the leaves will turn very dark red (many people would call this dark purple or brown) in the oppressive summer heat.

Best time to prune.. In fall, after the leaves have fallen.

Fun Fact.. While it's true that any Japanese maple would have originated in Japan, the Bloodgood was born at Bloodgood Nursery in Long Island, N.Y.


Julie's Comments.. (June 2004) This red maple tree is not to be confused with towering red maple shade trees like the Red Sunset red maple (Acer rubrum - 'Red Sunset'). The Latin word Acer refers to the genus to which the plant belongs, or the plant's family name, and the word palmatum (for the Japanese red maple) corresponds to the plant's given name. So, the Japanese red maple (Acer palmatum) is the Red Sunset's brother. "Bloodgood" refers to this particular palmatum's variety name, and distinguishes this tree as unique among the Acer palmatums of the world. A Bloodgood Japanese Red Maple is actually a hybrid or a clone of the Acer palmatums. Within the Acer palmatum group, many variations appear. Some are green leafed, some are weeping, some are lacy and extremely delicate, some are small bushes. All of these varieties are quite different from our Bloodgood. Sound confusing? That's why plants are often referred to by their scientific name (or botanical name or Latin name), rather than common names. Calling a tree a red maple in one part of the world simply isn't specific enough. Indeed, look at the various red maples in my yard alone. I've got six of them and they are all unique!

The Bloodgood Japanese red maple is truly a special tree, valued for its ornamental, layered look and elegance in almost any landscape. Not only are the leaves a beautiful color in spring and fall, but they are also distinctively shaped and the seeds are a brilliant red color as well. Dark purple twigs and stems add winter interest, as does the tree's graceful shape. What wonders God has given us with so many beautiful things living right in our own yards!


Planting date.. May 1999. This tree was a Mother's Day gift from my family, and what a truly special gift it was! My husband delivered it, burlap ball and all, from the trunk of his car and I never saw a tree arrive from the nursery looking so healthy. At planting time, the tree was not quite six feet tall and had a 1.5-inch trunk. I am amazed at how fast it grew in its first years here!

DO OVER?.. Yes.


See Julie's Japanese Red Maple Journal
See the Japanese Red Maple growth chart
Read the latest Tree Grower's Diary blog entry

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