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An evergreen small tree or shrub of bushy, rounded shape; all its parts free from down or hairs. Leaves of hard, leathery texture, varying in shape from ovate to distinctly three-lobed and obovate, entire on old plants, frequently toothed on young or vigorous ones; 1 to 3 in. long and wide; strongly three-veined; stalk 1⁄2 to 2 in. long. Flowers in small clusters terminating short side shoots. Wings of fruit 3⁄8 in. wide, diverging at an angle of about 60° and, including the globose nut, about 1 in. long.
Native of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Cyprus, originally described in 1856. In its hard leathery leaves it suggests A. orientale, but that species is not so strictly evergreen and its leaves are smaller. It is quite hardy in this country and very distinct as one of the very few evergreen maples that can be grown outdoors.
There is little doubt that the correct name for this species is A. obtusifolium Sibth. & Sm. When describing this species in 1809, Sir James Smith gave Crete as its homeland. The maple known as A. syriacum does not occur so far west, but does occur in Cyprus, and it is virtually certain that the type specimen of A. obtusifolium came from there, as it is a perfect match for others collected in Cyprus (Meikle, Fl. Cyprus, Vol. 1, pp. 9, 364 (1977)).
On the mainland, A. obtusifolium occurs in the Lebanon and possibly in Syria. It was reintroduced to Kew in 1977 by Fliegner and Simmons, from Cyprus.
In should be noted that in the second line of the second paragraph of the entry on page 234 A. orientale should read: A. sempervirens.