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A deciduous tree of medium height; branchlets glabrous dark red-brown, marked with pale oblong lenticels. Leaves 4 to 7 in. wide, not quite so long, five-lobed, the three terminal lobes reaching nearly to the base, the basal pair not so deep or sometimes absent; lobes oblong-lanceolate, coarsely toothed; there is a tuft of hairs at the base on the upper side, and brown wool along the principal veins beneath; otherwise the leaves are glabrous; rather glaucous beneath. Flowers yellow, produced at the end of May in short, broad corymbs. Fruits glabrous; the keys 11⁄2 to 2 in. long; wings 5⁄8 in. wide, spreading at about 60°.
Native of the Balkan States and Greece; introduced about 1879. It is very distinct and striking in foliage, on account of the deep, comparatively narrow lobes. The leaves suggest a Virginia creeper, and are unlike any other of the large-leaved European maples. In depth of lobing they resemble A. platanoides ‘Lorbergii’, but the lobes themselves are quite differently shaped. A. trautvetteri bears some similarity to A. heldreichii but its leaves are not so deeply cleft. A handsome maple.
The description given above is strictly that of var. macropterum (Vis.) Pax, which appears to be less widely distributed than the type and perhaps linked to it by intermediates. The type is smaller in both leaf and fruit. A. heldreichii (typical) is 39 × 31⁄2 ft at Kew (1966) and 45 × 43⁄4 at Edinburgh (1968); var. macropterum is 22 × 1 ft at Kew (1966) and 42 × 4 ft at Edinburgh (1968). The tallest specimen recorded, status uncertain, is at Hergest Croft, Heref., 65 × 71⁄2 ft (1961).
Considered as a subspecies rather than a variety, the var. macropterum would become subsp. visianii K. Maly.
Apart from the tree at Kew planted 1890, all the following are var. macropterum or of uncertain status: Kew, 46 × 51⁄2 ft (1981) and, pl. 1890, 42 × 41⁄4 ft (1979); Hergest Croft, Heref., 75 × 9 ft (1985); Edinburgh Botanic Garden, 70 × 51⁄2 ft and, var. macropterum, 56 × 5 ft (1985); Dawyck, Peebl., 50 × 4 ft (1982).