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A deciduous tree to 15 m. Bark greenish grey. Branchlets glabrous, purplish red or greenish. Buds, ovoid, with four pairs of imbricate scales, margins pilose. Leaves broadly pentagonal in outline, base subcordate to rounded, five (-seven) lobed, 9–10 × 8–12 cm, lobes broadly ovate, apically acuminate, margins serrate with acuminate teeth, upper surface bright green, lower surface paler, with prominent pubescent tufts in vein axils and scattered throughout; petiole 5–9 cm long, green, glabrous; autumn colours yellow. Inflorescence paniculate racemose, erect, many flowered, pilose or glabrous, to 9 cm. Flowers 5-merous, usually dioecious, pedicels slender, sepals ovate, petals obovate, petals slightly shorter than sepals, stamens eight, inserted in the middle of the glabrous nectar disc, ovary densely pubescent. Samaras red to purple, 2.5 to 3 cm long, wings spreading variously. Nutlets ovoid. Flowering May, fruiting in September (Xu et al. 2008).
Distribution China Southern Gansu, northern Guangxi, western Hubei, southern Shaanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan.
Habitat Mixed forests between 1000 and 2300 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 6-7
RHS Hardiness Rating H7
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
A small deciduous tree with glabrous young shoots. Leaves five; six; or seven-lobed, truncate or slightly heart-shaped at the base; 2 to 41⁄2 in. long, about as much wide; lobes ovate, sharply and unevenly toothed, each one tapering to a slender point; dark green and glabrous above, paler, net-veined and glabrous beneath except for conspicuous tufts of white down in the vein-axils; stalk slender, 1 to 4 in. long. Panicles terminal, slender, 3 to 4 in. long, 5⁄8 in. wide, the flowers crowded on the upper two-thirds. Flowers about 1⁄4 in. wide, yellowish; calyx downy on the inside; petals glabrous, rather shorter than the sepals; stamens longer than either; ovary felted with yellowish wool. Fruits crowded in panicles 2 to 4 in. long, and 21⁄2 to 3 in. wide; nutlets downy when young, finally almost glabrous, the wings spreading horizontally, each 1 in. long, 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 in. wide.
Native of Szechwan and Hupeh; introduced by Wilson in 1907. This handsome maple is distinct in its slender flower-panicles, woolly ovary, and especially in the conspicuous white tufts of down sprinkled over the under-surface of the leaves. There is an example 28 ft high at Caerhays Castle, Cornwall, but it has remained uncommon in gardens and grows slowly. A specimen in the Edinburgh Botanic Garden, raised from W. 4428 and planted in 1911, measures 12 × 1 ft (1968).
For a note on this species by Brian Mulligan, see Int. Dendr. Soc. Year Book 1976, pp. 56-7.