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In addition to the unusual leaf shapes and colors, some maple varieties have the additional benefit of displaying brightly colored twigs. New growth on these trees emerges as bright red, pink, coral, striped, or orange bark, depending on the variety. The color lasts from the growing season through the winter, and as the branches grow and thicker bark is laid down, the color fades to a more subtle hue. This bright new growth complements the leaves during the year and adds interest, but when autumn comes and the leaves fall, these colorful twigs stand out and make a statement of their own.
Acer circinatum ‘Pacific Fire’ (Pacific Fire Vine Maple) has twigs that change from a yellow-green in the spring to a rich red color in the late summer through the winter. Varieties of Stripebark Maple (Acer × conspicuum) display brilliant red twigs from spring on, and the ‘Phoenix’ variety has added interest with white stripes through the red bark. Most of the Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple) varieties shown here have red, pink, or coral new spring growth that lasts through the winter. The one exception is Acer palmatum ‘Wintergold’ that has bright orange twigs.