Acer papilio King

TSO logo


Kindly sponsored by
a member of the International Dendrology Society


Dan Crowley (2020)

Recommended citation
Crowley, D. (2020), 'Acer papilio' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2021-05-08.



  • A. caudatum Wall. ex Rehd.

Other taxa in genus


A collection of preserved plant specimens; also the building in which such specimens are housed.
Narrowing gradually to a point.
A collection of preserved plant specimens; also the building in which such specimens are housed.
(botanical) Contained within another part or organ.
Flower-bearing part of a plant; arrangement of flowers on the floral axis.
Small nut. Term may also be applied to an achene or part of a schizocarp.
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
(botanical) All parts present and functional. Usually referring to both androecium and gynoecium of a flower.
With saw-like teeth at edge. serrulate Minutely serrate.
Inflorescence in which flowers sessile on the main axis.
Male referring to male plants (dioecy) or flowers (monoecy) or the male parts of a hermaphrodite flower.
(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.


There are no active references in this article.


Dan Crowley (2020)

Recommended citation
Crowley, D. (2020), 'Acer papilio' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2021-05-08.

A deciduous tree with ash-grey, smooth young stems. Leaves five-lobed, blades 234 to 5 in. long and about as wide; lobes triangular-ovate, acuminate, coarsely and acutely saw-toothed or lobulate, with the teeth or lobulations them­selves finely serrate, lower surface with a more or less persistent covering of yellowish brown or fawn-coloured hairs; leaf stalks 245 to 345 in. long, finely downy at first. Flowers in erect, spike-like panicles of perfect and staminate flowers, main axis of inflorescence, peduncles and pedicels all hairy. Fruiting racemes about 4 in. long; fruits on pedicels 16 to 14 in. long; wings ascending, 1 to 115 long with the nutlet and about 25 in. wide.

Native of the E. Himalaya and of Upper Burma, much confused with A. acuminatum and A. pectinatum (see under these species for the marks of difference). It is generally known as “A. caudatmn” but, for the reasons explained in the note, this name must be rejected as ambiguous.

Note: The name A. caudatum starts from Wallich (Pl. As. Rar., Vol. 2, p. 4, p. 28 and t. 132 (1831)). Wallich included under it two sets of herbarium material which he had previously regarded as representing two distinct species. These he had catalogued in the East India Company’s Herbarium as A. caudatum (No. 1225) and A. pectinatum (No. 1226). In his account of A. caudatum Wallich made clear that he had come to regard this material as representing a single variable species – A. caudatum – and cited A. pectinalum as a synonym. In fact, his earlier judgement was the correct one. No. 1226 is a distinct species (A. pectinatum, q.v.); No. 1225 is, with one exception mentioned below, A. acuminatum, a species validly described by David Don some years earlier. Wallich’s description of A. caudatum is clearly compounded of these two species. As for the specimen figured under t. 132, there is nothing to match it in the Kew Herbarium, but it is nearest to a specimen of A. pectinatum in Hooker’s herbarium and is not A. caudatum as understood by Rehder (i.e. A. papilio). This confusion would have been resolved if Wallich had designated a type for A. caudatum, but he did not do so, and there is no way of deducing one from his account. Rehder, in Sargent’s Trees and Shrubs, Vol. 1, p. 163 (1905), applied the name A. caudatum Wall. to A. papilio, but excluded Wallich’s description of the staminate flowers (which refers to A. acuminatum) and the synonym A. pectinatum. But what is left of Wallich’s A. caudatum is then impossible to identify. Nor did Rehder deal with the material upon which Wallich based his account; he makes no mention of the Nos. 1225 and 1226 and the only specimen he cited for A. caudatum is one collected by J. D. Hooker in Sikkim – and the only specimen of this group in Hooker’s herbarium is A. pectinatum. It should be added that one of the collectings in the Wallich herbarium under No. 1225 seems to be A. papilio. It is sterile and mounted with a flowering specimen which is clearly A. acuminatum. Even if the sterile piece is really A. papilio, there is no reason to take it as the holotype of A. caudatum unless it be that it is the one specimen that might answer to Wallich’s descriptions of the leaves; in fact it does not agree well with his description. It will therefore be evident that the name A. caudatum Wall. has been so confused that it is best abandoned. The valid name for A. caudatum sensu Rehder is A. papilio King (Journ. As. Soc. Bengal, Vol. 65, p. 115 (1896)).

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

See the remarks under A. caudatum above.