ACER continued
last updated 16/10/2014

Snakebark Maples and Acer x conspicuum hybrids

This newly established inter-specific hybrid groups together a number of Snakebark Maples, including some of uncertain parentage. All are small trees with lovely autumn colours, but most importantly they have fantastic striped bark in the winter—hence their common name of “Snakebark Maples”. The most amazing thing though, is the way in which the bark changes colour with the onset of winter, when it develops its true glory. 

They can be grown either as a traditional tree, with lower growth progressively removed to generate a clean trunk and head or in a less formal manner as a freely branched tree or even multi-stemmed like an over-sized shrub. 

It is a group that we struggled with at our old site due to a combination of a series of wet winters and very heavy clay soil though they became happier as we improved the soil. However, it has been a revelation to see them growing in spectacular fashion here at our new site, on a sandier soil. Thus it is the structure of the soil which is important (not the pH). It's important that it doesn't waterlog in winter but it needs to be adequately moisture retentive in summer. Good air movement around the branches in winter is important to minimise the risk of fungal problems. Similarly, carry out any essential pruning in the summer, not the winter.

See also Acer capillipes, Acer davidii,  Acer forrestii,  Acer morrisonensis,  Acer pectinatum, Acer pensylvanicum, Acer rubescens, Acer rufinerve and Acer tegmentosum.

ACER x conspicuum 'Candy Stripe' 
A new selection that is thought to be a hybrid between Acer capillipes and Acer pensylvanicum. Smaller growing than many of the Snakebarks, the leaves are also smaller giving the whole plant a lighter, more airy appearance. The dramatic winter bark has a dark purple background, heavily striated with white, whilst the young shoots are a rich reddish purple. 5m.
See it growing at the top of our Woodland Quarry Garden.

ACER x conspicuum 'Elephant's Ear'
When you see the leaves on a strong-growing plant, the reason for the name is obvious! Up to 30cm long and 20cm wide! Lovely golden yellow autumn colour. 8m.

ACER x conspicuum 'Mozart'
See Acer pectinatum 'Mozart' 

ACER x conspicuum 'Phoenix'
The amazing winter bark colour is a bright orangey-pink with pure white stripes and never fails to attract comment. Autumn colour is bright yellow, though it does tend to lose it's leaves early in the autumn. Avoid too wet or enclosed a site to minimise the risk of fungal problems in winter. As with so many plants, adequately moist in summer but well drained in winter is the key to success. 3m.
See it growing in our extensive Gardens.

ACER x conspicuum 'Red Flamingo'
I will run out of superlatives describing this recent introduction. Few people walk past it without is so eye-catching at any time of year; whether the vivid pink variegated leaves in spring or the incredibly vibrant red stems in winter. But the most amazing thing is that it appears to be totally hardy and is growing perfectly happily for us in full sun, in a site that can catch the wind. Truly an incredible plant, but no shrinking violet, that's for sure!

ACER x conspicuum 'Silver Cardinal'
This Snakebark has incredible pink and cream variegated foliage, highlighted by the red petioles and young stems. It occurred as a chance seedling of A. pensylvanicum and received an Award of Merit in 1985. Our stock is directly derived from the original seedling in the Windsor Great Park. It develops an attractive weeping head. Unless your soil is very good, it is safest in dappled shade. 3m.

ACER x conspicuum 'Silver Vein'
A hybrid between A.davidii 'George Forrest' and A.pensylvanicum 'Erythrocladum' found at Hilliers about 1960. It is arguably the best of the classic snakebarks for garden suitability and good colour with its rich purple and white striped winter bark. 5m.

ACER crataegifolium 'Veitchii'
I was amazed to discover that this gorgeous plant has been around since 1881! It forms a dense small tree-like shrub to 2.5m. The small leaves are delightfully variegated pink and cream. It also boasts wonderful deep pink autumn colours. As with most variegated Acers, avoid lunchtime sun in the summer if possible. 2m

ACER davidii

Delightful small tree noted for dazzling autumn colour and attractive white striped purple bark in winter. Flowers and fruits more reliably than many too, which just adds to its considerable attraction. Wonderful gently arching habit. Choose from the cultivars listed below which allow you to select for a particular feature.

ACER davidii 'Cantonspark'
A slender, upright selection perfect for small gardens, with slightly smaller leaves too. Purplish-green bark sports the famous white striations.

ACER davidii 'Cascade'
A charming cultivar derived from A. davidii 'Serpentine', from which it inherits its weeping habit and very pendant branches. Best staked when young to the desired height and left to weep from there. Perfect therefore for the smaller space, though the leaves are larger than those of 'Serpentine' which is usually the more compact of the pair. 

ACER davidii 'George Forrest'
Another splendid selection, 'George Forrest' is rather upright as a young tree, broadening with maturity. Rich red tones dominate the characteristic striped winter bark.

ACER davidii 'Karmen'
A wonderful tree to add to our range of Snakebark Maples with the typical white striped bark. This one however, boasts chocolate brown young growth which turns reddish green through summer before developing rich orange and yellow autumn colours. It flowers freely too, resulting in attractive bunches of seeds to add to the autumn display. 4m

ACER davidii 'Mozart'
See Acer pectinatum 'Mozart'

  ACER davidii 'Purple Bark'
This Dutch selection from 1988 is derived from the subspecies Acer davidii ssp. grosseri, which explains the characteristic three-lobed leaves. More compact than most snakebarks, the white-striped purple bark is as beautiful as any in winter.
See it growing in our Woodland Quarry Garden.

ACER davidii 'Rosalie'
I very much like this relatively recent (1985) Dutch cultivar; in fact it's one of our favourites. The young growth opens a delightful chocolate colour, eventually maturing to green, but initially contrasting superbly with the delightful hanging racemes of pale coloured flowers. Although the bark is a pleasant green with white striping in summer, it really comes into its own in winter when it turns a rich reddish-lilac colour, highlighting the white striations. This has characteristics in common with 'Karmen', both of them having a distinctive habit in this group; more open and airy, more graceful than many of the others.

                  ACER davidii 'Serpentine'
To my mind one of the most graceful of the snakebarks with smaller leaves and free-branching, gently arching habit. Seeds freely produced, creating a very attractive contrast. Wonderful orange autumn colours.

ACER elegantulum
This very rare Chinese species sits here purely by virtue of alphabetical order - it is not a snakebark! However, it is a very beautiful small tree of great elegance, as the name suggests! The rich green leaves are flushed with bronze on opening and give lovely yellow and orange autumn colours. The stems are a bright green and noticeable in winter.

ACER forrestii 'Alice'
This remarkable chance seedling has very distinctive striped pinkish red bark in winter.  Smaller leaved than most, the young growth sometimes develops a mix of white, cream and dark pink. It makes an open, though well-branched, small tree to some 5m in 10 years.

ACER forrestii 'Sparkling' 

This delightful form is not quite as large and vigorous as the majority of the snakebarks, but the bark is just as good. The young growth has a coppery tinge that gives an almost metallic sheen. Summer colour is green, whilst autumn colours are again outstanding in shades of orange and red.

Back to Previous Page

More Acers

Back to Top of Page