Acer × conspicuum 'Phoenix'

Common Name: snakebark maple 
Type: Tree
Family: Sapindaceae
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 13.00 to 16.00 feet
Spread: 7.00 to 9.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Bloom Description: Flowers insignificant
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest


Best grown in rich, humusy, evenly moist, well-draining soils in dappled sun. Prefers drier conditions in winter, so good drainage is necessary. Protect from wind. Reliably hardy in Zones 6-9.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Acer × conspicuum, commonly called snakebark maple, is an interspecific hybrid resulting from the cross between the Chinese A. davidii and the North American A. pensylvanicum. This is a somewhat shrubby, slow-growing hybrid maple with upright, slender branches. Plants can reach up to 30' tall with a open crown of about equal spread. There are several cultivars available in the nursery trade, grown primarily for their showy, striped bark. The color of the bark can vary, from purples and reds to greens depending on the cultivar, but all have vertical, silvery-white stripes. The leaves (up to 8" long and 6" wide) have 3-5 lobes with pointed ends and toothed margins. In fall the foliage turns a bright yellow.

Genus name is the Latin name for a maple tree.

The specific epithet conspicuum means "conspicuous", possibly in reference to the showy bark.

The common name snakebark maple refers to the striped pattern on the bark.

'Phoenix' was discovered in the early 1980s as a seedling of Acer × conspicuum 'Silver Vein'. The bark is a coral-orange color with creamy white stripes in summer, but deepens to a vibrant red in winter with contrasting bright white stripes. The foliage turns yellow in fall. This tree will reach up to 16' tall with a 9' spread.


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.

'Phoenix' may suffer from severe die-back. This is more likely if grafted onto a poor quality rootstock, or if the graft itself was made carelessly. To help reduce the risk of die-back, ensure that you are purchasing plants from reputable sources.


A stunning accent or specimen plant for year-round interest. Position in front of a large evergreen to highlight the color and texture of the bark in winter.