Emperor 1 Japanese Maple

Botanical Name: Acer palmatum ‘Emperor 1’
Alternate Name: Emperor Maple

The Emperor 1 Japanese Maple is a desirable, small shade tree. It leaves out two weeks later than most maples, thereby avoiding any frost damage to new growth. 

Acer palmatum ‘Emperor 1’ keeps its leaf color best in partial shade. The foliage has an enticing glow for most of the year. The leaves emerge bright red in spring, and then mature into a beautiful, deep red-purple color. They are delicate and palmate-shaped, with 5 deeply divided lobes. 

The tree holds its delightful color through the summer, glowing in the sunlight, and then puts on a spectacular bright scarlet fall display that will not disappoint. The flowers are inconspicuous and not noticeable compared to the leaves.

This tree grows fairly fast, reaching 8-10’ tall in 10 years. It is therefore a good tree to plant where a fast-growing landscape is needed. Also, be sure to plant where the ‘Emperor 1’ Japanese Maple will be protected from harsh winds and hot afternoon sun.

The Emperor 1 maple tree has a graceful, up-right, open crown but a compact form, making it a good accent tree for small landscapes. 

This maple doesn’t need much pruning. Make sure to prune in late winter or early spring before the sap starts running. Mulch around the base of the tree to keep soil moist and the roots cool.


Height: 10-15’

Width: 10-15’

Shape: Open crown, fountain shaped

Flower Color: Red

Flowering Time: March-April

Fall Color: Bright scarlet-red

Features: Eye-catching foliage color in spring and summer, Fall display

Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade

Watering: Moderate & Regular, keep soil consistently moist

Soil: Moist and well-drained, slightly acidic

Growth Rate: Fast

USDA Zone: 5-8

Uses: Small shade tree, small city yards, courtyards, container, specimen, woodland gardens, accent tree, Japanese gardens

Similar trees: Bloodgood maple (Acer ‘Bloodgood’)