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Small tree, 6–8 m. Bark smooth, grey or greyish brown. Branchlets slender, glabrous and green with some bronzing on the upper surfaces. Leaves deciduous, 6–8 × 8–11 cm, palmately five-lobed, divided to half of the length, upper surface dark green with a tuft of silvery hairs at the junction of the petiole and lamina, lower surface pale or greyish green with silky hairs along the veins, margins minutely serrate, apex acute to acuminate; petiole to 6 cm long, red and extremely slender. Inflorescence terminal, paniculate, 3–4 cm long. Flowers 5-merous, 0.3–0.4 cm diameter, staminate or hermaphrodite; sepals oblong, green, petals ovate-oblong, pale yellow, stamens eight, inserted inside the nectar disc. Samaras ~2 cm long, purplish red to pale yellow, wings spreading almost horizontally. Van Gelderen et al. 1994, van Gelderen & van Gelderen 1999; Gregory, in prep. Distribution CHINA: western Sichuan, northern Yunnan. Habitat Montane forest. USDA Hardiness Zone 6. Conservation status Not evaluated. Cross-reference K105. Taxonomic note Flora of China (Xu et al. 2008) treats this species as a synonym of A. oliverianum subsp. oliverianum.
Reported in Maples of the World (van Gelderen et al. 1994) to be unknown in cultivation at that time, Acer schneiderianum has since been introduced on several occasions. Priority appears to belong to SICH 1214, collected in November 1992 at 2390 m in Zhaojue Co., Sichuan. Here the parent trees of up to 8 m in height grew in a rich community of broadleaved trees on a north-facing slope. Good specimens are established at Wakehurst Place and in Giles Coode-Adams’ arboretum at Feeringbury Manor, Essex, the latter being the larger tree, at 6 m in 2006 (TROBI). A 1995 introduction by Mikinori Ogisu (Ogisu 95089) from Xichang, Sichuan was widely distributed, and is established in many British collections. There have also been more recent commercial introductions, and the species is offered by specialist nurseries in Europe. In North America it remains little known, but it is growing well in Vancouver (Wharton et al. 2005) from SICH 1214 and has reached 6 m there too, resisting the heavy snow of the 2006–2007 winter without branch breakage (P. Wharton, pers. comm. 2007).
Acer schneiderianum resembles members of the A. campbellii group, but has somewhat finer branching and less leathery leaves, which flush red or bronzed and become a good orange in autumn (Wharton et al. 2005). A young plant observed at Hergest Croft has an attractive ‘pewtered’ cast to the mature leaves in summer. This plant originated as seed imported from China by Andrew Norfield – one of several Chinese species introduced to a wider market by his nursery. It appears to be hardy and to flourish in the conditions usually enjoyed by members of Acer section Palmata.