Acer rufinerve Sieb. & Zucc.

TSO logo


Kindly sponsored by Lawrence Banks


Dan Crowley (2020)

Recommended citation
Crowley, D. (2020), 'Acer rufinerve' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2020-01-29.


Common Names

  • Grey-budded Maple


  • A. tegmentosum subsp. rufinerve (Sieb. & Zucc.) E. Murray


Other species in genus


Grey-blue often from superficial layer of wax (bloom).


There are currently no active references in this article.


Dan Crowley (2020)

Recommended citation
Crowley, D. (2020), 'Acer rufinerve' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2020-01-29.

A deciduous tree to 15 (-20) m. Bark green with white stripes, turning pale brown and shallowly fissured with age. Branchlets glabrous, dark green to glaucous, faintly striped white. Buds stipitate, ovoid, with two pairs of valvate scales. Leaves pentagonal, base cordate to truncate, three- or obscurely five-lobed, lobes ovate, 7–15 cm long and wide, apex acuminate, margins irregularly double-serrate, upper surface dark green, lower surface paler, with white to rusty pubescence, at least in vein axils and along veins at least at first, rusty pubescence persisting in primary vein axils; petiole 2–6 cm long, green, grooved; autumn colours yellow to purple. Inflorescence axillary or terminal, racemose, pendulous, ~15 flowered, 5–10 cm long. Flowers yellowish green, 5-merous, usually androdioecious, pedicels 0.1–0.5 cm long, sepals oblong, 0.2–0.4 cm long, petals narrowly obovate, 0.4–0.5 cm long, stamens eight, inserted outside the nectar disc. Samaras 2–3 cm long, wings spreading narrowly to broadly. Flowering May, fruiting October. (Bean 1976le Hardÿ de Beaulieu 2003Ogata 1999van Gelderen and van Gelderen 1999). 

Distribution  Japan

USDA Hardiness Zone 5-6

RHS Hardiness Rating H5

Awards Award of Merit

Conservation status Least concern (LC)

Another of the snakebark introductions made by Charles Maries for Veitch Nurseries, Acer rufinerve arrived in the U.K from Japan in 1879. Morphologically, it bears resemblance to the North American A. pensylvanicum, from which it differs most markedly in its glaucous shoots and persistent gingery pubescence on the leaf undersides. Its nutlets are also spherical, while in A. pensylvanicum they are more flattened. A. tegmentosum also has bloomed shoots, though often more strongly, while its leaves are larger with shallower lobes, appearing orbicular in outline. From its compatriat A. capillipes, it can easily be separated by its lack of membranous pegs in the vein axils present in that species, along with its pubescence. It also has stouter pedicels on its flowering racemes. The common name of grey-budded maple can be slightly misleading, as these often have some red in them, particularly later in winter.

Noted by van Gelderen et al. (1994) as one of the most common snakebarks in cultivation, it remains so, and is well represented throughout our region by numerous recent collections from the wilds of Japan, as well as by several cultivars. Plants at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, grown from seed from NAJAPAN 57 and collected in Naeba Forest, Niigata Prefecture in 2006, have formed sprawling plants, with somewhat untidy branching. Meanwhile, a specimen of SOKU 63, planted to mark the occasion of the first International Maple Symposium held at Westonbirt in 2002 had made a shapely tree of 5 m, observed in October 2019. The species is considered tolerant of some drought and also wetter environs, though not of saturated soils (Vertrees and Gregory 2009).


Acer rufinerve var. albo-limbata Hook. f.
Acer rufinerve f. albolimbatum (Hook. f.) Schwer
'Fuiri urihada kaede'
Uriha nishiki'
Shufu nishiki'

RHS Hardiness Rating: H5

Illustrated for Curtis Botanical Magazine in 1869, having been introduced by Standish Nurseries, Ascot (Hooker 1869), this form was known in cultivation before the typical form of the species was grown in Europe. Its foliage is often spotted white, with white margins, while some leaves can be entirely white (le Hardÿ de Beaulieu 2003). Slow growing, it was described as a ‘beautiful maple’ by Bean (1976), though as ‘not very striking’ by van Gelderen et al. (1994, p. 159). Opinions on its attractiveness are clearly mixed. Propagation via grafting is advocated though given it is also grown from seed with characters proving somewhat variable, it may be more appropriate to refer to this taxon as a cultivar Group. It is not known as to whether the cultivar names listed as synonoyms here, as recorded by Vertrees and Gregory (2009), refer to seedling derived plants, though it is suspected that, in at least some cases, they do.


A site produced by the International Dendrology Society.

For copyright and licence information, see the Licence page.

To contact the editors: