Acer palmatum ‘Butterfly’

Japanese Acer, Japanese Maple

Acer palmatum ‘Butterfly’ is a captivating Japanese maple cultivar celebrated for its exquisite foliage and graceful form. Its leaves showcase a stunning variegated pattern of cream and soft green, resembling delicate butterfly wings. In spring, new leaves emerge with vibrant pink accents, adding charm to the landscape. As the season progresses, the foliage transitions to lush green, culminating in a spectacular display of golden-yellow, orange, and crimson hues during fall.

This deciduous tree reaches a height of about 1.8 to 2.4 meters, making it perfect for smaller gardens or container planting. ‘Butterfly’ thrives in partial shade and well-draining soil, providing a mesmerising foliage spectacle in any Japanese-style garden or landscape. With its ever-changing colours and elegant form, Acer palmatum ‘Butterfly’ is a cherished addition to gardens seeking a touch of natural beauty and sophistication.

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Origin: Japan, Korea, China, eastern Mongolia, and southeast Russia
Genus: Acer
Species / Cultivar: palmatum 'Butterfly'
Common Name: Japanese Acer, Japanese Maple
Synonym: Acer palmatum 'Kochō-no-mai'

Plant Biography

The background of Acer palmatum hybrids can be traced back to Japan, where the parent species, Acer palmatum, is native. Over centuries, Japanese gardeners and horticulturists selectively bred and cultivated various varieties of Acer palmatum to enhance specific traits, such as leaf shapes, colours, and growth habits. These efforts resulted in a rich diversity of Acer palmatum cultivars, celebrated for their exquisite and ornamental features. In the 19th and 20th centuries, these hybrids found their way to Europe and North America, captivating gardeners worldwide. Today, Acer palmatum hybrids continue to be cherished and extensively cultivated, gracing landscapes and gardens with their mesmerising foliage and adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to outdoor spaces.

Acer palmatum 'Butterfly'
Soil: Moist but Well Drained
Soil that allows water to drain at a moderate rate, without the water pooling.
Growth Rate: Slow
This plant is particularly slow to grow, even during growing season.
Water Requirement: High
Likely to require supplementary watering in warmer months, even once established.
Maintenance: A little
Easy to look after but may occasionally require some attention in order to thrive.
Situation: Part Shade to Full Shade
Can enjoy several hours of direct sunlight, but also happy in full shade.
Eventual Height: 2.5–4m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 1-1.5m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Fully Hardy
Will survive unprotected outdoors in most areas of the UK, even in the harshest winters.
Habit: Deciduous
Sheds all its foliage annually, so for a period of the year it will be without foliage.
Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

Acer palmatum ‘Butterfly’ requires proper care and cultivation to showcase its mesmerising foliage. Plant it in a location with partial shade, providing protection from harsh afternoon sun. Ensure well-draining, fertile soil, enriched with organic matter. Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during dry periods. Apply a balanced fertilizer in early spring to support healthy growth.

Taking 10-20 years to reach its final height of 2.5-4 metres, Acer palmatum ‘Butterfly’ is perfect for a large planterr.

Regularly prune to maintain its graceful shape and remove any dead or crossing branches. Protect ‘Butterfly’ from strong winds that can damage its delicate leaves. With diligent care and attention, this Japanese maple cultivar will reward gardeners with its ever-changing and striking variegated foliage, adding a touch of elegance and natural beauty to any landscape.


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