The Tree Center


Dragon Tears™ Japanese Maple

Acer palmatum ‘JN4’ (PP# 22,249)

1 Review


How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me


The Dragon Tears™ Japanese Maple is a new tree with a unique growth habit and beautiful foliage. It has an upright form, but with horizontal branches that weep gracefully, making an elegant taller specimen of a type not usually found among Japanese maples. The leaves are bright red in spring, turning darker in summer, and orange-purple in fall. It makes a beautiful lawn specimen, or a feature in a bed around your home or out in the garden. Equally at home in a woodland setting or an urban Japanese courtyard, this tree also makes a lovely container specimen that will grace your terrace or patio.

  • Unique upright growth with weeping branches
  • Deeply-lobed leaves are red in spring
  • Summer foliage is purple-red, turning orange-purple in fall
  • Beautiful specimen tree reaching 10 feet or more in height
  • Grows well across the country, including hotter areas

The Dragon Tears™ Japanese Maple will grow best with morning sun and afternoon shade, especially in warmer zones. It should be planted in moist, well-drained soil enriched with organic material, and mulched with compost or rotted manure in spring, to keep the roots damp and cool. It stands up well to hotter summer weather, but water it regularly to keep the leaves from scorching or drying in summer. It normally has no pests or diseases, and it can easily be pruned as needed to control its form and ultimate height.

Plant Hardiness Zones 6-9
Mature Width 3-5
Mature Height 5-8
Soil Conditions Moist, Well-Drained Soil
Sunlight Full Sun to Partial Shade
Drought Tolerance Moderate Drought Tolerance
Zones 6-9

Weeping trees are always popular additions to every garden, and there are two main types of weeping trees available. Most have no central, upright trunk, but need staking to create one, or they grow into a broad, low mound of branches. Much rarer are trees with an upright trunk and weeping side branches. These are very desirable, since they need no staking, and grow to a good height, yet they show a lovely weeping form. Among Japanese maples, all the well-known weeping varieties are of the first kind, forming low, wide trees, usually 2 or 3 feet tall and 6 feet or more across. Beautiful as this is, we have long searched for a tree that would be taller but have weeping side branches. We found it finally, in the Dragon Tears™ Japanese Maple – a new variety with unique branching and the big bonus of wonderful red foliage. We are simply thrilled to have this great tree available to offer you.

Growing Dragon Tears Japanese Maple Trees

The Dragon Tears™ Japanese Maple forms an upright tree, growing vigorously and reaching 5 feet tall within a few years. It will easily grow to 10 feet, and in time it will probably pass 15 feet in height. It will be just 6 or 8 feet across, with one or two central trunks, and almost horizontal branches, with weeping stems falling from them. This unique structure is found in almost no other Japanese maple, and it makes this tree very, very special. Its graceful lines develop naturally, with no need for artificial staking, and for the first time it becomes possible to have a gorgeous weeping Japanese maple grown easily to a substantial height – and what a gorgeous tree this is.

The foliage is special too. The leaves are between 2 and 5 inches long, with 5, 7 or rarely 9 deep lobes, with finely serrated edges. These spread outwards like the fingers of an open hand. The stems are reddish-purple, smooth and glossy when young, turning gray with a rougher texture on older stems and on the trunk. In spring, as the new stems sprout from the buds and the new leaves open, they are bright red, with a lovely, vibrant appeal. As summer comes the leaves mature to a deeper purple-red, looking rich and somber through the summer months. With the cooler nights of fall the leaves become more orange, creating a striking orange-purple effect that looks wonderful in the fall garden. As the tree becomes more mature it may produce bunches of small red maple keys that will hang from the branches in early winter, adding to the seasonal appeal of your tree. If you love both weeping trees and red-leaf trees, you will simply adore this tree. 

Grow the Dragon Tears Japanese Maple as a graceful specimen on a lawn. Place it around your house between rounded bushes, where its weeping form makes a lovely contrast. Use it for height in a bed, or plant it in a container on a terrace or patio. If you have an Asian themed garden, then, of course, this is a wonderful, wonderful choice for it. Plant it too among woodland plants in a natural garden – wherever it grows it will fit in and attract attention.

The Dragon Tears Japanese Maple is hardy to zone 5, and it grows well in warmer zones too, with minimal greening of the summer leaves. It should be planted in a spot with full sun in zones 5 and 6, if the soil is moist, and with afternoon shade in warmer zones in all soils. Too much shade will turn the leaves greener, and too little risks summer scorching of the foliage. It will grow best in moist, well-drained soil, with plenty of rich organic material blended in at planting time and added as a mulch layer in spring. This will keep the soil moist and cool – ideal conditions for root growth and good health. This tree is not drought-resistant, and it should be watered regularly, especially during hot and dry weather. It normally has no pests or diseases and it is vigorous and easy to grow.

History and Origins of Dragon Tears Japanese Maple Trees

The Dragon Tears Japanese Maple is a form of the Japanese maple, Acer palmatum that was discovered in America. This tree naturally grows in the forests of Japan, China and Korea, and most special forms originated in Japan. Ray and Cindy Jackson own Jackson Nursery, in Belvedere, Tennessee, and specialize in the unusual. In the spring of 2006, Ray was working among a group of seedlings of Japanese maples he had grown, when he noticed one unique looking plant. He took it aside and grew it for a time to study it. He noticed its special combination of an upright stem with weeping branches, and its wonderful leaf coloring. Within three years his tree was 5 feet tall, showing just how strong and vigorous it is, and in 2011 he was granted a patent for his unique new plant, giving it the name ‘JN4’. It has been released to waiting gardeners with the trade-mark name of Dragon Tears™, by Greenleaf Nursery Company, of Oklahoma, as part of their Garden Debut® plant range. We have a limited number of beautiful plants, already showing that unique upright, weeping habit. We know just how fast new plants of this quality leave our premises, so order now, as they will all be gone very, very soon.

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Dragon Tears™ Japanese Maple

Acer palmatum ‘JN4’ (PP# 22,249)

1 Review