Snakebark Maple, or Acer pennsylvanicum, is an understory native that is rarely used in the landscape. A somewhat picky performer, it does best in moist, acidic, well-drained soils with light shade as the leaves may scorch in full sun. If the proper conditions are present, Snakebark Maple makes a pleasing sensation in the landscape. The leaves are a rich medium-green, turning a butter-yellow in the fall. Possibly no tree has bark as variable as Snakebark Maple. During late winter/early spring, the bark exhibits a medium-green with white striations. As the season progresses into early summer, the white becomes more dominant as the stems gradually change to a more modest green background with black striations in the fall. This tree is especially useful in a naturalized landscape as an understory tree, where it usually grows 15'-25' with a slightly smaller spread. For best effect, place it in front of a dark background to accent the bark and/or among trees with red fall color to add to the autumn palette. There are several other names for the Snakebark Maple each reflecting an interesting point about the tree itself. The leaves somewhat resemble a goose foot, hence the name of goosefoot maple for this plant. Since moose and white-tailed deer often browse the leaves and young twigs, some people have given it the name of moosewood. And finally since whistles can easily be carved from branch sections, some have dubbed it whistlewood. Whatever you choose to call it, Acer pennsylvanicum (the scientific name refers to its being native to the state of Pennsylvania) should be considered as a possible addition to your landscape!
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