The Japanese maples, often known simply as Acers, are nearly all categorised in the species Acer palmatum - named for their characteristic palm-like leaves. They are most well-known for their striking autumn leaf colours, but there are numerous varieties offering interest throughout the year. Almost all of them have a very definite "presence" about them.
Although related to the large maple species which are native to Europe and North America, the Japanese maples are mostly small shrub-like trees. The species Acer palmatum is native to Japan, where varieties of this species have been cultivated and improved for centuries.
They are ideal for the modern garden, taking up very little space whilst offering an enormous range of forms, shapes and colours.
Acers are mostly easy to grow, needing little maintenance. They prefer good neutral loamy soils, although alkaline soils are tolerate. They all do best in a sheltered situation. Most varieties are also very happy to be grown in large pots or planters.
A good example of the "dissectum" form of Acer palmatum, featuring deeply cut leaves.
One of the "dissectum" group of Japanese acers, with feathery purple leaves.
Orange-tinged young leaves turn yellow over the summer, then gold in autumn.