Acer elegantulum W.P. Fang & P.L. Chiu

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John Grimshaw, Ross Bayton and Dan Crowley (2020)

Recommended citation
Grimshaw, J., Bayton, R. and Crowley, D. (2020), 'Acer elegantulum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2020-08-13.


  • Acer
  • Sect. Palmata, Ser. Sinensia


  • A. olivaceum W.P. Fang & P.L. Chiu

Other species in genus


(botanical) Contained within another part or organ.
Cone. Used here to indicate male pollen-producing structure in conifers which may or may not be cone-shaped.
Coordinated growth of leaves or flowers. Such new growth is often a different colour to mature foliage.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
(of fruit) Vernacular English term for winged samaras (as in e.g. Acer Fraxinus Ulmus)
Covered in hairs.
(syn.) (botanical) An alternative or former name for a taxon usually considered to be invalid (often given in brackets). Synonyms arise when a taxon has been described more than once (the prior name usually being the one accepted as correct) or if an article of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature has been contravened requiring the publishing of a new name. Developments in taxonomic thought may be reflected in an increasing list of synonyms as generic or specific concepts change over time.
(pl. taxa) Group of organisms sharing the same taxonomic rank (family genus species infraspecific variety).


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John Grimshaw, Ross Bayton and Dan Crowley (2020)

Recommended citation
Grimshaw, J., Bayton, R. and Crowley, D. (2020), 'Acer elegantulum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2020-08-13.

Tree to 15 m, though often not exceeding 5 m in cultivation; densely branched. Bark brown and scabrous. Branchlets green. Leaves deciduous, chartaceous, 5–13 × 7–16 cm, palmately five-lobed (rarely seven-lobed), largely glabrous, but for the tufts of hair in the vein axils of the lower surface, margins minutely serrate, lobe apex acute to acuminate or mucronate; petiole 2.8–6 cm long, glabrous. Inflorescence terminal, paniculate. Flowers 5-merous, usually dioecious; sepals light green, ovate to oblong, petals light green, obovate to oblong, stamens eight, inserted inside the nectar disc. Samaras 2–2.5 cm long, pale yellow when mature, wings spreading obtusely. Flowering May, fruiting September (China). (van Gelderen et al. 1994van Gelderen & van Gelderen 1999Xu et al. 2008)

Distribution  China Southern Anhui, Fujian, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang

Habitat Montane forest between 200 and 1400 m asl.

USDA Hardiness Zone 7-8

RHS Hardiness Rating H4

Conservation status Least concern (LC)

Taxonomic note Included by van Gelderen et al. (1994) ,Acer elegantulum var. macrurum W.P. Fang & P.L. Chiu has smaller samaras (1–1.5 cm long), though this taxon is treated a synonym by Xu et al. (2008).

Acer elegantulum has a distinct resemblance to A. campbellii, from which it is separated in the Flora of China key only by having a glabrous instead of a pubescent disc within the flower. A rigorous phylogenetic study of this series is urgently needed. As seen at Hergest Croft, the posture of the leaves is slightly different, those of A. elegantulum being slightly drooping whereas those of the A. campbellii group are held flat. The leaves of A. elegantulum are also smaller and, in the specimens seen, more deeply lobed, giving a shape suggestive of that of Cannabis sativa. The leaves flush with shiny bronze to deep purple-brown, but become green when mature, with the stems remaining green. The whole plant has a very pendulous habit like other members of series Sinensia.

Acer elegantulum is represented in the major English and European collections, where it seems to grow well, flowering and fruiting well after 12–15 years, and it is also cultivated in the milder parts of North America. The first introduction seems to have been made in about 1985 from Shanghai Botanic Garden (van Gelderen et al. 1994), while a flourishing tree of over 3 m at Westonbirt derives from a 1986 introduction from Hangzhou Botanical Garden (le Hardÿ de Beaulieu 2003). It soon became available to collectors through the nursery trade. A tree at Tregrehan planted in 1989 is still only a couple of metres tall, but this may be due to its situation in a rather shaded place (T. Hudson, pers. comm. 2007). A specimen at Sandling Park, Kent was 3 m tall in 2006 (TROBI).


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