When you say “Japanese maple” to most people, they picture a low, weeping tree, often with red or burgundy leaves trailing along the ground. There are a lot of wonderful upright Japanese maples, like the Bloodgood maple (Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’).
The burgundy foliage is what draws most people to Bloodgood maples initially, but landscape designers love it for the shape. Bloodgoods typically branch out low on their single trunk, creating a spreading vase shape. Be sure to allow them plenty of room as they’ll grow to 15 feet and 15 to 20 feet tall.
If you love pruning and feel confident, you *can* plant them in a tighter space than would otherwise be considered ok. At this project, we tucked a Bloodgood maple into the corner between the garage and the mudroom. Every year, we prune it to keep it off the house, and it’s been a gorgeous addition to the landscape. You can see the entire Fredericksburg landscape installation here.
Bloodgood maples have broader leaves compared to the fine, feathery leaves of some other specimens. On a plant nerd note, you can tell that from the botanical name. Acer refers to maple; palmatum indicates that the leaves are palmate, with lobes radiating out from a central point. Like a palm. See? Botanical names actually make sense!
As with other maples, Bloodgood maples are deciduous so expect them to lose their leaves in the winter. That’s ok, because they have the branch structure to be the star of the show any time of year!