Since there are around 1000 cultivars of Japanese Maples available, Iíve created this basic guide to help people that are unfamiliar with the trees decide which tree to choose.
The following is a SIMPLIFIED list of characteristics commonly important in selecting Japanese Maples:
Fall Color: Red, Orange, or Yellow
Spring Color: Purple and Red, Orange and Yellow, Green, Variegated
Habit or Shape: Upright and Vase shaped, Weeping, Shrubby
Leaf Shape or Type: Palmatum, Dissectum, Linearilobum, Other
Tree Size: Dwarf, Medium, Large
Type of Bark: Normal, Coral, Rough
If you would like help selecting a cultivar, simply list the characteristics that are more important below.
Also, keep in mind that many of these characteristics can be dependent on environment. If you live in colder or hotter regions this should be addressed. Generally JMs don't do as well in full sun and only certain varieties can tolerate it without some leaf burn. This should be indicated if this will be a problem.
I have included an image that depicts some of these basic characteristics.