Acer griseum, the paperbark maple or blood-bark maple,[3] is a species of flowering plant in the family Sapindaceae, native to central China.[4] Acer griseum is found in the Chinese provinces of Gansu, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Shaanxi, Shanxi and Sichuan, at altitudes of 1,500–2,000 m (4,921–6,562 ft).[4]


It is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree, reaching 6–9 m (20–30 ft) tall and 5–6 m (16–20 ft) wide, with a trunk up to 70 cm (28 in) in circumference.[5] The bark is smooth, shiny orange-red, peeling in thin, papery layers; it may become fissured in old trees. The shoots are densely downy at first, this wearing off by the second or third year and the bark exfoliating by the third or fourth year.[4]

The leaves are compound, with a 2–4 cm petiole with three leaflets, each 3–10 cm long and 2–6 cm broad, dark green above, bright glaucous blue-green beneath, with several blunt teeth on the margins.[4]

The yellow flowers are androdioecious, produced in small pendent corymbs in spring, the fruit being a paired samara with two winged seeds about 1 cm long with a 3 cm wing.[4][6][7]

Cultivation and uses

Acer griseum was introduced to cultivation in Europe in 1901 by Ernest Henry Wilson for the Veitch Nurseries in the UK, and to North America shortly after. It is one of many species of maples widely grown as ornamental plants in temperate regions. It is admired for its decorative exfoliating bark, translucent pieces of which often stay attached to the branches until worn away. It also has spectacular autumn foliage which can include red, orange and pink tones. Cultivars include the columnar Copper Rocket.

This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[8]

In 2015, the North America-China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC) conducted an expedition specifically targeting Acer griseum for seed collection with the object of increasing the genetic diversity of plants in cultivation.[9] Propagation of Acer griseum is somewhat difficult as seeds have the same parthenocarpic tendencies as those of Acer maximowiczianum.[10]

Photo gallery


  1. ^ Aiello, A.; Crowley, D. (2019). "Acer griseum". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2019: e.T193593A2244567. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-1.RLTS.T193593A2244567.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Acer griseum (Franch.) Pax — The Plant List".
  3. ^ Adrian Higgins (2016-07-13) [2016-07-12]. "This distinctive tree is vastly underappreciated — and it's dying out". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 1330888409.
  4. ^ a b c d e Flora of China (draft): Acer griseum
  5. ^ "Paperbark Maple - Acer griseum".
  6. ^ Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  7. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  8. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Acer griseum". Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  9. ^ "2015 North America-China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC) Expedition to collect Acer griseum". Retrieved 1 October 2019.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ van Gelderen, C. J., & van Gelderen, D. M. (1999). Maples for Gardens: A Color Encyclopedia.

External links

Media related to Acer griseum at Wikimedia Commons