Acer pensylvanicum

Common Name: snakebark maple 
Type: Tree
Family: Sapindaceae
Native Range: Northeastern United States, eastern Canada
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Spread: 12.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Heavy Shade


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade. Excellent shade tolerance. Plants dislike full sun conditions. Slightly acidic, consistently moist soils are preferred. Best performance occurs in cool summer climates.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Acer pensylvanicum commonly known as snakebark maple is a shrubby understory maple that is native to moist, rocky forests from Wisconsin to Quebec and south in the Appalachians to Georgia. It typically grows as a large shrub or small tree to 15-25’ tall (less frequently to 40’ tall) with a rounded but uneven crown that is sometimes flat-topped. This is the only species of snakebark maple that is native to North America. Key ornamental features are its interesting bark and fall color. Greenish bark on young branches and young trunks is vertically marked with distinctive white stripes (hence the common names of snakebark maple and striped maple). Stripes may vanish over time as older bark turns reddish brown. Obovate, double-serrulate, three-lobed leaves (to 7” long) emerge with pink hues in spring, mature to dark green by summer and turn bright yellow in fall. Leaf purportedly resembles a goose foot, hence the common name of goosefoot maple for this plant. Small yellow flowers (1/3” diameter) bloom in pendant racemes (to 6” long) in spring (May). Flowers give way to winged samaras (to 1” long). Moose and white tailed deer often browse the leaves and young twigs hence the common name of moosewood. Whistles can easily be carved from branch sections, hence the common name of whistlewood.

Genus name is the Latin name for a maple tree.

Although misspelled by Linnaeus, the specific epithet is in fact a reference to the State of Pennsylvania where this tree is native.


Leaves may scorch in full sun locations. Potential disease problems include verticillium wilt, leaf spots, tar spot, canker and root rots. Potential insect problems include aphids, scale, borers and caterpillars. Mites may appear.


Fall color and striped bark (particularly in winter) are attractive. Perhaps best for woodland gardens or shaded naturalized areas.