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Bloodgood Japanese Maple vs Emperor 1: Differences and Similarities

Comparing two types of Japanese red maples, Bloodgood and Emperor 1, reveals interesting differences. While both may seem similar at a glance, they have distinct characteristics.

The Bloodgood Japanese Maple can grow up to 25 feet in both height and width, making it notably larger than the Emperor 1 variety, which typically doesn’t exceed 20 feet. Furthermore, Emperor 1 is better suited for hot climates and its leaves retain their red coloration for a longer period.

The Bloodgood variety, scientifically known as Acer palmatum var. atropurpureum ‘Bloodgood’, has a history dating back over 80 years. It was named after the Bloodgood nursery in Long Island, New York, where it was first introduced as a unique cultivar.

On the other hand, the Emperor 1 Japanese Maple, also known as Acer palmatum ‘Wolff’, was developed in Pennsylvania by Richard Wolff. This variety is recognized for its specific traits and adaptation, making it distinct from the Bloodgood.

Japanese Maple Bloodgood vs Japanese Maple Emperor 1

Japanese Maple Bloodgood and Japanese Maple Emperor 1

 Bloodgood Emperor
Name Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ Acer palmatum ‘Emperor 1’
Hardiness zone 5-8 5-9
Mature height 20-25 ft 15-20 ft
Mature width 20-25 ft 15-20 ft
Growth rate fast fast
Light exposure full sun, partial shade full sun, partial shade
Soil moist, drained moist, drained
Soil pH 5.5-6.5 5.5-6.5
Watering 1 time per week in a drought 1 time per week in a drought
Diseases fungus fungus
Pests insects, mites insects, mites

Growth rate and size are different

The Emperor Japanese Maple is known for its slightly faster growth rate, achieving a height of about 20 feet (6 meters) and a slightly smaller width. In contrast, the Bloodgood variety grows more slowly but ultimately reaches a marginally larger size, typically around 25 feet (8.3 meters) in both height and width.

When choosing between these varieties, it’s important to consider their substantial size and plan the planting space accordingly. It’s advisable not to plant them too close to your house or other structures, maintaining a minimum distance of 10-15 feet to allow for adequate growth and expansion.

Both the Emperor and Bloodgood maples can have their size controlled to some extent through pruning. While significant reduction in their size isn’t feasible due to their natural growth patterns, annual light pruning can promote a denser, more compact shape. However, it’s essential to remember that both varieties still require ample space to flourish.

Emperor One is a bit more hardy than Bloodgood

The Emperor One Japanese Maple exhibits slightly greater resilience to temperature extremes compared to the Bloodgood variety. Specifically, the Emperor One can thrive in a broader range of hardiness zones, from 5 to 9. In contrast, the Bloodgood variety is less suited for zone 9, where it may struggle with the higher temperatures.

A key advantage of the Emperor One is its timing in emerging from dormancy in the spring. It begins to develop leaves later than the Bloodgood, which helps it better withstand late frosts that are common in colder regions.

For instance, in zone 5, late frosts can linger until around May 15. If the Bloodgood maple has already started leafing out by this time, it risks frost damage. Meanwhile, the Emperor One’s foliage typically starts forming about two weeks later, making it more likely to avoid such damage since closed buds are more resistant to low temperatures.

Therefore, for those residing in northern parts of the United States where late frosts are a concern, the Emperor One Japanese Maple is often the preferable choice due to its enhanced frost resistance.

Emperor holds color better

The Emperor Japanese Maple boasts superior leaf color retention compared to the Bloodgood variety. While both maples share a similar leaf color, with the Emperor leaning more towards a ruby hue and the Bloodgood displaying a more burgundy tone, distinguishing between the two can be challenging.

However, the Emperor’s leaves have a distinct advantage in maintaining their vibrancy, even in partially shaded environments, remaining bright and colorful. This attribute is particularly notable as the Emperor One exhibits remarkable resistance to direct sunlight, outperforming the Bloodgood in retaining its color during the summer months.

An additional benefit of the Emperor variety is the thinner texture of its leaves. This characteristic lends a more aesthetically pleasing appearance to the tree, especially when illuminated by sunlight, enhancing its overall beauty.

What is similar between them?

The Bloodgood and Emperor 1 Japanese Maples, while having their distinct differences, also share several similarities:

  • Japanese Maple Heritage: Both are cultivars of the Acer palmatum species, sharing the characteristic traits of Japanese maples such as graceful growth habits and finely textured foliage.
  • Ornamental Value: Both the Bloodgood and Emperor 1 are highly prized for their ornamental appeal. They are widely used in landscaping for their beautiful foliage and attractive forms, making them popular choices for gardens and parks.
  • Seasonal Interest: Both trees provide year-round visual interest. In spring and summer, their foliage is a vivid red, turning to deeper hues in autumn. Even in winter, their branching structure adds aesthetic appeal to the landscape.
  • Care and Maintenance: Both varieties require similar care in terms of soil, watering, and planting conditions. They prefer well-drained soil and benefit from mulching and regular watering, especially in dryer conditions.
  • Use in Landscaping: Both are versatile in landscape design, suitable for use as focal points, in borders, or as part of a mixed planting scheme, providing a stunning contrast with green-leaved plants.

Understanding these similarities can help gardeners and landscapers in making informed decisions when choosing between these two beautiful varieties of Japanese maples.