Acer x conspicuum ‘Phoenix’ | Pink snakebark tree

Small tree with apricot-pink bark

I think I’m in love with a small tree. Pink might be stretching a point – would apricot-pink be more accurate? Either way, it’s a striking colour for a tree – perfect for growing in a winter garden, when the bark and branches come into their own.  

Small acer in a winter garden

We found it in Bodnant’s winter garden in Wales and it may have been that the late afternoon light was playing a few tricks on the camera. Acer x conspicuum ‘Phoenix’ would tick the conspicuous box – something about it reminds me of a bad spray tan from the 1980s (spray tan plus sunburn, perhaps). An unfortunate look on a person, but great on a tree.

Picture of Acer with plant label

Even the snakebark bit doesn’t faze me. A real snake would have me dashing for the hills, but I wish I had lingered longer to take better close ups of the unusual bark, which is striped pink and silver in places. Never having seen a tree like this before, I had the vague feeling of wondering if it was real or if I was going to find a sign nearby saying ‘Tee-hee – fooled you! Pink Tree sculpture by XXX’.

I’ve since read that this cultivar can reach quite some size when fully grown (up to 6m / 20ft), assuming it doesn’t succumb to our wet winter climate. My fingers are crossed. I’ve made a promise to call back often and see how it gets on – you might call it a tryst with a tree. Mind you, I’ll have to be on my toes to spot it – the bark is greenish yellow in summer and its foliage turns golden yellow in the autumn. Chameleon tree might be a better name, with the added benefit that I like chameleons. They don’t scare me at all.

35 Replies to “Acer x conspicuum ‘Phoenix’ | Pink snakebark tree”

  1. It is gorgeous. Planting my gardens has been a process (is a garden ever really finished?) But I add new things each year. What a beauty this tree would be in our cold and snowy northeastern winters!

  2. I’m with you about snakes, but that tree is perfect for the winter. Looks more coral than pink to me, at least in the pictures.

    1. It seems weird for bark to change colour according to the seasons. I hadn’t realised that happens until learning a bit about this tree.

  3. Good morning Susan, I love trees and shrubs with colourful barks, this one has lots going for it. We live about 50 mins from Bodnant, such an amazing garden that delights all year round. If you are in my neck of the woods again please come and stay, we have just started a B&B. Take care xx

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