'Bloodgood' Japanese Maple
Acer palmatum var. atropurpureum ‘Bloodgood’
‘Bloodgood’ sounds as if it holds its red color “good,” which it does, but the maple actually may have been named for the nursery where it originated. As atropurpureum implies, that red generally is a purplish burgundy hue for most of the year anyhow and blood red only just after the leaves emerge in spring and in autumn before they fall. The tree’s spring flowers also are maroon, its samaras red.
Because its palmate leaves aren’t as heavily dissected as those of some other Japanese maples, ‘Bloodgood’ should appeal to gardeners who prefer a less lacey look and a canopy that is rounded rather than weeping. Hardy in Zones 5-8 and growing to about 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide, it has a reputation for being the tough Japanese maple, somewhat more tolerant than the others of full sun, wind, and dry conditions.
Culture: Although Japanese maples will thrive in either full sun or partial shade in the north, they should receive only partial sunlight—preferably morning rather than afternoon rays—in the south. Too much sun there may cause the leaves to burn or the color of red maples to revert partially to green, though that greening may also be caused by too much shade.
Give the trees fertile, moist, well-drained, and slightly acidic soil, along with protection from strong winds, and a mulch to keep their roots cool. Their foliage can suffer from too frequent frosts in spring, but should recover by early summer. If you need to prune these maples, do so in late autumn or early winter, as the rising of their sap in spring would cause them to “bleed” then.
A highly appropriate addition to Asian or Zen gardens, Japanese maples also provide a distinctive accent of unusual foliage and color in other settings.