Description & Overview

Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Crimson Queen,’ the Crimson Queen Japanese Maple is one of the more well-known dissectum Japanese maples. This tree grows in a short, mounded form, dense with foliage and features broadly spreading and cascading branches. Its distinct, finely cut foliage emerges in spring with an excellent red color and settles to a much darker burgundy in summer. The burgundy color will brighten later in the season for a fantastic autumnal display.

Core Characteristics

Category: Tree

Wisconsin Native: No - Introduced

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 5

Mature Height: 8-10 feet

Mature Spread: 10-12 feet

Growth Rate: Slow

Growth Form: Dense, broadly spreading with cascading branches.

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Site in wind-protected area. Moist, well-draining soil.

Flower: Insignificant

Bloom Period: Spring Flowers appear as leaves expand

Foliage: Finely cut, burgundy.

Fall Color: Brilliant red

Urban Approved: No

Fruit Notes: Samara

Suggested Uses

In the world of Japanese Maples, there is an incredible amount of variation, such as distinctive foliage in leaf form and color, attractive shape, overall size, and beautiful fall color. There are so many different kinds of Japanese maples that they are broken into sub-groups to help differentiate them. ‘Crimson Queen’ belongs to the dissectum group and is among its most well-known members. The dissectum group is a real stand-out because the foliage looks like lace from far away. Up close, you’ll see that the leaves have long, slender “fingers” which are deeply lobed. Most dissectums are rounded shrub types with strongly cascading branches.

‘Crimson Queen’ is a fantastic choice for a landscape specimen and deserves to be sited in a prominent location where it will attract attention. It would work well near a patio or entryway or even planted in groups on the outskirts of a landscape or rock garden. The cascading form can be showcased with an elevated planting location, such as above short retaining walls or near a pond or water. If pairedwith an an evergreen mix or against an evergreen screen, the burgundy foliage is sure to turn heads. Planting against an evergreen screen can also provide this plant permanent protection against the cold winter winds.

Wildlife Value

‘Crimson Queen’ produces minuscule purplish-red umbles in spring, pushing at the same time as foliage. These blossoms are minute and ornamentally insignificant, yet they still attract pollinators. Because this Japanese maple is not native to the country, they do not provide a significant ecological benefit.

The Imperial moth (Eacles imperialis) prefers native maples; however, the caterpillar of this moth has been observed to occasionally feed on the foliage of non-native maples such as this one.

It should be noted that the feeding of this moth should never warrant control.

Maintenance Tips

Proper care begins with proper placement. Ideal light conditions for a Japanese Maple would be dappled light or part shade. Japanese Maples can grow in full sun but will still need some shade throughout the day as those grown in full sun are prone to leaf scorch, especially in hot and dry locations. Some varieties are less tolerant than others of full sun, such as dissectum Japanese Maples, which are especially prone to leaf scorch. Japanese Maples need a couple hours of unfiltered sun, but if the planting location is primarily shady, you will have a much happier plant.

Caring for Japanese Maples in winter can also be tricky. You’ll want to choose a planting location that will naturally give your tree permanent protection from the winter winds. The prevailing wind direction in Wisconsin is from the West. The best spots to plant a Japanese Maple are those on the eastern sides of things like buildings or evergreen hedges. This protects the tree from sweeping western winds and intense sun. In general, Japanese Maples are best grown on the south to southeast side of your home.

You must apply a generous layer of bark mulch over the tree’s root zone and water it thoroughly throughout the fall before the ground freezes. Your tree will benefit from having more water stored up going into the winter season and will come out of dormancy refreshed and ready to grow.

We recommend reading Growing Japanese Maples in Wisconsin for more in-depth information about properly caring for your Japanese maple.


The biggest problems you’ll encounter when growing Japanese Maple come with improper placement and brutal Wisconsin winters. You may encounter leaf-feeding insects such as aphids or leafminers that cause minor damage, but they are not common pests on Japanese Maples. There are minimal insect and disease issues that affect this plant’s mortality. The main focus should be keeping your plant happy and healthy, which all starts with where you decide to plant it.

Leaf Lore

The genus Acer is the Latin name for a maple tree. The specific epithet, palmatum, refers to the palmate nature of the foliage. Each foliage has several lobes, usually between 5 and 7, which all originate from a single point, resembling an open hand with its fingers stretched out. Following the specific epithet is the abbreviation “var.” which means botanical variety. This maple is a botanical variety of Acer palmatum. The type of botanic variety this maple is a dissectum. Dissectum means deeply cut in reference to the deeply cut, feathery nature of the foliage.

Companion Plants

While phenomenal looking on its own, the Crimson Queen Japanese Maple can look even more charming when planted with a few companion plants. Ground-covering plants such as Canada Wild Ginger, Bunchberry, or a Dwarf Japanese Garden Juniper could complement their small stature.

Remember that your Japanese maple will want some protection from the sun. We recommend using large shade trees nearby to help provide ideal light conditions; these include Oaks, Hackberry, Kentucky Coffeetree, Honeylocust, American Beech, and Katsura.

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Written by Miles Minter