Origin: China, Taiwan
Acer caudatifolium is a deciduous tree up to 20 m (70 ft) in height, from China and Taiwan, where it grows in high-altitude mountain forests between 1800 and 2000 m (6000-6500 ft). It is a member of the snakebark section of maples and has a striking bark of strong green veined with darker green, with grey lenticels.
The leaves are 10 cm long (4 inches) and are quite narrow in proportion to their length; they are thin, light to mid-green, with a long, tapering tip; the 2-4 lobes which flank the central one can be at times almost absent, or very underdeveloped.
They have doubly serrated margins and are hairless beneath, and have a petiole about 7 cm (3 inches) long. The flowers are in racemes, and produce fruit of a striking light lime green, with wings which meet at an obtuse angle.
Date of introduction not known, possibly 20th century.
The word Acer is a Latin word for the maple tree, and means sharp, a reference to the use of the wood for spear shafts by the Romans. The specific epithet caudatifolium derives from folium, leaf, and caudatus, having a tail – an allusion to the length of the tip of the leaf.
Photographs: Mount Stewart, Co Down 2003.