The foliage of Japanese Maples varies a great deal from one cultivar to the next, and it can be difficult to find what you want. Retailers often discuss the leaf color and shape in their descriptions, because they strongly affect the overall look of the tree.
Variegation is the presence of multiple colors on one leaf. Because of the immense range of hues offered by Acers, variegation can sometimes be quite dramatic. They range from the bright green to the deep red varieties that have names like Bloodgood and Crimson Queen, and the fall foliage of acers hits every color on the visible spectrum except blue.
Often the cut of the leaf will be mentioned – this is just the depth of the separation of the lobes of a single leaf. The deeper the cut, the more delicate the leaf. Extreme examples of this trait would be the dissectum or lace-leaf varieties, such as Seiryu and Emerald Lace.