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Small, upright tree 10–12 m; usually smaller in cultivation. Bark grey and slightly fissured. Branchlets green, slender and covered with short hairs. Leaves deciduous, membranous, 4–7.5 × 5–9 cm, palmately five- to seven-lobed, divided to half or three-quarters of their length, upper surface dark green and glabrous or with short light-coloured hairs, lower surface light green, densely covered with white hairs, margins double-serrate, apex acuminate; petiole 2–5 cm long, densely pubescent; autumn colour yellow or orange to maroon. Inflorescence terminal, corymbose with five to nine flowers. Flowers 5-merous, staminate or hermaphrodite; sepals ovate, reddish purple, petals white to cream, broadly ovate, same size as sepals, stamens eight, inserted on the surface of the nectar disc. Samaras 0.9–2 cm long, purplish brown, wings spreading obtusely. Flowering May, fruiting September (China). Van Gelderen et al. 1994, van Gelderen & van Gelderen 1999, Xu et al. 2008; Gregory, in prep. Distribution CHINA: southern Anhui, Zhejiang. Habitat Forests between 600 and 1000 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 6–7. Conservation status Not evaluated. Cross-reference K99.
Hairy palms are more often associated with schoolboy jokes than with maples, but the whitish hairs on the leaf undersides help distinguish this species from Acer palm atum, which it otherwise rather resembles. It is a small, rather shrubby tree, but seems to be hardier and more versatile than A. palmatum (although its full potential is still unknown), which may give it a bright future in cultivation (P. Gregory, pers. comm. 2007). Like A. palmatum it has excellent autumn colour, ranging through yellow, orange and scarlet. It was introduced to Europe in the mid-1990s (van Gelderen & van Gelderen 1999) as scionwood from the Japanese collector Masato Yokoi. At the Esveld Aceretum it has achieved 2 m after ten years (Plantentuin Esveld Collections 2006–2008). It had reached North America somewhat earlier, seed having been received at the JC Raulston Arboretum in 1988 from a Chinese source (records are incomplete), growing to 3 m there before being destroyed during the erection of a new building in 2001 (T. Lasseigne, V. Tyson, pers. comms. 2007). A nice young specimen from a 1994 accession was observed at the Arnold Arboretum in May 2006. It has also done very well at the David C. Lam Asian Garden in Vancouver, where it has been growing since seed was received from Hangzhou Botanical Garden in 1993. These trees show an upright habit and are currently about 6 m tall (P. Wharton, pers. comm. 2007). It has displayed only ‘moderate frost resistance’ at Rogów Arboretum (P. Banaszczak, pers. comm. 2007), so should probably be avoided in areas with severe winters.