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A small tree with glabrous young stems, which are usually purplish red and gradually become striated after the fashion of the ‘snake-bark’ group. Leaves three- or five-lobed, ovate-oblong in general outline, 2 to 3 in. long, dark, slightly bluish green above, paler along the midrib and main nerves, whitish green beneath and quite glabrous on both sides except for prominent tufts of white hairs in the axils of the veins beneath; central lobe elongated, caudate-acuminate, lateral lobes shorter and usually acute or at least scarcely developed, basal lobes usually small and sometimes less finely tapered than the central one; margins double-toothed and incised. Flowers reddish, on rather stiff, short racemes. Fruit wings spreading at about a right-angle.
Native of W. China; described from specimens collected by Henry in W. Hupeh and by the Russian explorer Potanin in Kansu; introduced by Wilson from N.W. Szechwan under W. 4100 (as “A. laxiflorum”), from W. Hupeh (W. 4427) and possibly under other numbers. The leaves of this species are very variable in the degree of lobing, even on the same tree. Rock’s specimens collected in Kansu are said by Rehder to be mostly three-lobed and certainly Wilson’s 4100, from the borders between Szechwan and Kansu is less lobed than his W. 4427, which comes from much farther to the east and south.
A. maximowiczii is a very hardy species, very decorative in winter when young owing to its purplish red stems, but this character becomes less evident as the tree ages. It is in cultivation at Kew, in the Edinburgh Botanic Garden, at Westonbirt, in the Knap Hill Nursery, Surrey (from Westonbirt seed), and at Borde Hill, Sussex. Its nearest ally appears to be the Japanese A. tschonoskii but in that species the central and lateral lobes are more equal in size and more deeply incised; the basal lobes are usually well developed; and the veins beneath are covered with a rusty down when young. In the leaves of A. forrestii the central lobe is relatively shorter and broader than in A. maximowiczii and the margins are much more finely and regularly toothed. The leaves of A. laxiflorum are downy beneath when young, at least on the veins, and the prominent axillary tufts seen in A. maximowiczii are absent.