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Shrub or tree to 13 m, though smaller in cultivation; often multistemmed. Bark smooth and grey. Branchlets grey and glabrous. Leaves evergreen, leathery or papery, 6–8 × 3–4 cm, entire, ovate, upper surface bright green, lower surface glaucous-green, three to five lateral veins on each side of the midrib, margins serrate towards the apex, apex acuminate; petiole 1–1.5 cm long. Inflorescence terminal, corymbose, with three to five flowers. Flowers staminate or hermaphrodite, 5-merous; sepals green, petals yellowish green, stamens eight. Samaras 1.4–2(–3.5) cm long, yellowish brown when mature, wings spreading variously. Flowering April, fruiting September (China). Van Gelderen et al. 1994, van Gelderen & van Gelderen 1999, Xu et al. 2008. Distribution CHINA: Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang. Habitat Forest in valleys between 200 and 1200 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 8–9. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration NT75. Cross-reference K73. Taxonomic note Flora of China (Xu et al. 2008) also recognises var. dimorphifolium (Metcalf) Y.S. Chen, with two- or three-lobed leaves. In Maples of the World (van Gelderen et al. 1994), it is treated as a variety of A. laevigatum.
This tender species with entire evergreen leaves has a toe-hold in cultivation in the mildest parts of our area, and under cover in specialist collections where winters are too severe for it to survive outside (the Esveld Aceretum, for example). A specimen at Bodnant, Conwy was killed in the severe 1981–1982 winter (van Gelderen et al. 1994). A very sheltered site is clearly indicated, but collections from its highest sites would be interesting. No large specimens are recorded by TROBI, but it is grown at Tregrehan, where it was 2 m tall in 2005, retaining green bark along its trunk. The foliage is glossy dark green, flushing reddish after a short period when the tree is deciduous (T. Hudson, pers. comm. 2007)