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Featured Plant

Acer morrisonense


Scientific Name: Acer morrisonense

Common Names: Snake Bark Maple

Family:Sapindaceae frmr. Aceraceae

Plant Type: Deciduous Tree

Environment: Due to its more fragile nature, needs to be planted in a sheltered and slightly shady site

Bloom: Spring (mid)

Uses: Great for that somewhat shady spot in your yard that is perfect for a smaller tree. Be sure to plant where the bark will be visible and accessible in the winter. Also used for bonsai.

Other: Grows between 1800-2200 meters in East and Southern Taiwan. There are other species of Acer that are also considered to be snakebark maples, including A. tegmentosum, A. davidii, and A. capillipes. All Acers have recently been moved into the family Sapindaceae


Acer morrisonense can be found in:

Rhododendron Garden (Beds 73A, B, D) and 

Temperate Asia Garden (Bed 4A).



Acer morrisonense

A prettier maple would be hard to find! This dainty, rare variety grows in the mountains of Taiwan. It is one of 14 species of "snake bark maples" that are found from the Himalayas to Japan. The bark with its pattern of green and white stripes is highly decorative and notably visible, in winter, when the leaves have fallen.

The petioles holding the leaves of snake bark maple are scarlet and the red flush extends down each twig. The delicate leaves have 3 points of apices, as in most maples, and turn yellow in autumn. The twin seed pods with wings or "samaras" dangle in long graceful clusters around August each year. A. morrisonense is a small tree, reaching 18 to 30 feet. It needs cool, wet winters and grows best in the shade of bigger trees.

Acer pennsylvanicum, "moosewood" which grows in Canada and in our northeastern states, has similar green-striped bark. There are also many cultivars of snake bark maples.


Photos by Docent Joanne Taylor
Text by Docent Kathy McNeil
Profile by Associate Curator David Kruse-Pickler
Additional Photos by SFBG Visitor, Eric Hunt


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