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Goosefoot Maple Acer pensylvanicum

Previously known as:

  • Acer canadense
  • Acer tricuspifolium
Phonetic Spelling
AY-ser pen-sill-VAN-ee-kum
Description

Snakebark maple is an understory small tree or large shrub with a rounded habit.  It prefers partial shade and well-drained moist soils.  It tolerates heavy shade very well and performs best in cooler summers so it struggles in the south. This tree's name is reference to the State of Pennsylvania where this tree is native. It is also native to NC mountain areas where it can be found in dry to mesic forests. 

The interesting bark on stems and young trunks have white striped markings giving it the common name of Snakebark. The shape of the leaves are supposedly the shape of a goosefoot giving it the common name of Goosefoot Maple. The bright yellow leaves provide fall interest and the unusual bark provides winter interest.

This tree will do well as an understory tree or shrub in woodland areas. Protect it from full sun as leaves may scorch. 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • ‘Erythrocladium’
    Red twig color in winter
‘Erythrocladium’
Tags:
#bees#deciduous#fall color#small tree#shade tree#partial shade#heavy shade#interesting bark#shrub#acidic soil#wildlife plant#partial sun#deep shade#native tree#moths#shade tolerant#green flowers#yellow flowers#tree#shade shrub#deciduous shrub#nectar plant#native shrub#shade garden#spring flowers#winter interest#fall interest#understory tree#flowering tree#small mammals#moist soil#food source#NC native#flowering shrub#nighttime garden#small and large mammals#native garden#mountains#cool weather plant#summer interest#spring interest#acidic soil tolerant#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#larval host plant#summer fruits#food source summer#deciduous tree#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#native#bird friendly#food source hard-mast fruit#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#full shade#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#food source mid-summer#shade#part sun#part shade#shade flowers#flowering#flower#butterflies#pollinators#pollinator garden#flowers#birds#audubon#moth larva#imperial moth
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • ‘Erythrocladium’
    Red twig color in winter
‘Erythrocladium’
Tags:
#bees#deciduous#fall color#small tree#shade tree#partial shade#heavy shade#interesting bark#shrub#acidic soil#wildlife plant#partial sun#deep shade#native tree#moths#shade tolerant#green flowers#yellow flowers#tree#shade shrub#deciduous shrub#nectar plant#native shrub#shade garden#spring flowers#winter interest#fall interest#understory tree#flowering tree#small mammals#moist soil#food source#NC native#flowering shrub#nighttime garden#small and large mammals#native garden#mountains#cool weather plant#summer interest#spring interest#acidic soil tolerant#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#larval host plant#summer fruits#food source summer#deciduous tree#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#native#bird friendly#food source hard-mast fruit#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#full shade#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#food source mid-summer#shade#part sun#part shade#shade flowers#flowering#flower#butterflies#pollinators#pollinator garden#flowers#birds#audubon#moth larva#imperial moth
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Acer
    Species:
    pensylvanicum
    Family:
    Sapindaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The Striped Maple has limited uses. Its porous and fine-grained wood has occasionally been used by cabinet makers for inlay material. Whistles can be carved easily from branch sections. Native Americans reportedly used the wood to make arrows and the bark to make a beverage. Farmers in the American colonies and Canada reportedly fed their cattle both dried and green leaves in the winter; in the spring, when the buds had begun to swell, they turned their horses and cows into the woods to browse on the young shoots. Native Americans used the Striped Maple to treat a variety of ailments including bronchial and kidney troubles, colds, and coughs.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    This is the only species of snakebark maple that is native to No
    Distribution:
    USA: CT , GA , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE
    Wildlife Value:
    Members of the genus Acer support Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) larvae which have one brood per season and appear from April-October in the south. Adult Imperial Moths do not feed. Early spring source of nectar for bees. It is an important browse plant for many mammals.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Shade
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Tolerates heavy shade.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 15 ft. 0 in. - 35 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 12 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Irregular
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Samara
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    1 inch long winged samaras in pendulous chains. In North Carolina, the samaras are available from June to September.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    1/3 inch flowers are greenish-yellow, regular, pentamerous in 6 inch long racemes, Bloom time is April- May.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Orbicular
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    5-7 inch long and wide leaves are 3 lobed at the apex and palmately veined. Yellow to red-orange fall foliage.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Green
    Light Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Bark Description:
    Young bark as vertical white stripes which can disappear with age and turn more reddish brown.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Bud Terminal:
    Only 1 terminal bud, larger than side buds
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    The branches are reddish and the terminal buds are red and taper to a point. Older stems can have green to white striped bark.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Native Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Shade Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Understory Tree
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Problems:
    Short-lived