Japanese Maple 'Butterfly'

Acer palmatum

Family: Sapindaceae (sap-in-DAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Acer (AY-ser) (Info)
Species: palmatum (pahl-MAY-tum) (Info)
Cultivar: Butterfly
Additional cultivar information:(aka Kocho-No-Mai)
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Matsumurae (very deeply divided)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade


Grown for foliage



Good Fall Color

Provides winter interest

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

By grafting

By budding

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mobile, Alabama

Benton, Arkansas

Bakersfield, California

Garberville, California

Oakland, California

Richmond, California

San Anselmo, California

Stanford, California

Jay, Florida

Pensacola, Florida (2 reports)

Severna Park, Maryland

Silver Spring, Maryland

West Friendship, Maryland

Brookline, Massachusetts

Grosse Pointe, Michigan

Marion, Mississippi

Tupelo, Mississippi

Charlotte, North Carolina

Gastonia, North Carolina

Hillsborough, North Carolina

Powell, Ohio

Portland, Oregon

Jackson, Tennessee

Disputanta, Virginia

Lexington, Virginia

Lacey, Washington

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 6, 2015, Nanthawat from Portland, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Surprisingly Hardy for a really delicate-looking plant.


On Sep 21, 2014, bevthang from Mena, AR wrote:

I brought this plant and it is about 4ft high. really pretty. I need to know if I can plant this in nearly almost sun and does it matter that I want to plant it on the south side corner of my house. we have a lot of wind coming at us from the north and west. could someone help me out on this, please. bevthang


On Sep 11, 2014, redhat_redshirt from trail,
Canada wrote:

It's noted as being a z6, however, I have personal experience of them thriving in pots (so subtract a zone) in a zone 5 region. Also I have sold 7ft tall specimens which have since grown to 11+ feet. Anyway, love the tree and would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a small to midsized acer palmatum.


On Apr 25, 2009, blumburg from powell, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

After some leaf scorching last summer, I moved mine into more shade in the fall. It made it through a bad winter on the windy north side of the house and is budding out all over. What a relief. It is very twiggy and I'll probably thin it out a little. It looks so delicate, I wasn't sure it would make it here in central Ohio.


On Oct 27, 2008, maplenut from Lacey, WA wrote:

Butterfly is a very 'twiggy' upright vase-shaped japanese maple. Some people LOVE the twiggy look, but I am not one of them. A Butterfly can be artistically modified simply be continuing to remove a lot of the inner twigs. Mine is in full sun and has never burnt.


On Jun 7, 2005, gerry_mac from Dublin, CA wrote:

My 'Butterfly' is just as Todd Boland describes his tree. Mine is in a very large porcelain container, about 40 gallons in size and is about 10 years old. It stands about 7 feet tall and is about 6 feet wide. It has been subjected to some very harsh dry winds in Dublin, CA but this specimen has proven to be an extremely hardy tree in spite of its delicate appearance. Absolutely gorgeous! A standout in my 100-plus Japanese maple collection.


On Apr 25, 2005, doss from Stanford, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

My 'Butterfly' is about 20 years old. It grows with only bright indirect sunlight so that it lacks the pink that is normally found on the leaves except in the early spring. It grew to 14 feet until I had to have it severely pruned to keep it in it's place. While it is said that this tree grows 8-10 feet, it has been known to grow to 25 feet in California.

Butterfly's foliage can revert to green and it is important to remove stems that only have green leaves on them.


On Mar 3, 2005, frankford from East Lansing, MI (Zone 5a) wrote:

I've planted this plant in a wind protected spot in zone 5 with well drained soil and mulch. It has survived several harsh winters with minimal damage.


On Dec 20, 2004, Todd_Boland from St. John's, NL (Zone 5b) wrote:

'Butterfly' is one of the lovliest of the variegated Japanese maples. Most leaves have a clean white margin but soom variation exists. The new leaves may have pinkish margins. In fall, the white margins often take on a purplish colour. This selection may reach 5 m but is often much shorter. Like most variegated Japanese maples, it is not as hardy as the green or purple-leaved types, thus requires a very sheltered site. May be grown as a wonderful container plant.