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A deciduous tree up to 40 or 50 ft high in a wild state, with a trunk 12 to 18 in. in diameter and a round-topped habit; branchlets hairy. Leaves composed of three leaflets on a stout, very hairy main-stalk; terminal leaflet short-stalked, oval, 3 to 5 in. long, 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. wide; the side ones obliquely ovate, stalkless, and somewhat smaller; all are either entire at the margins or shallowly and sparsely toothed, and more or less hairy beneath. Flowers yellow, 1⁄2 in. diameter, produced usually three together on drooping hairy stalks 3⁄4 in. long. Fruit with thick, brown-felted nutlets; keys 11⁄2 to 2 in. long; wings 3⁄4 in. broad, rounded, nearly parallel to each other, or diverging to 60° (in cultivation often not so large). Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 387.
Native of Japan, where, according to Sargent, it is widely distributed, but not common; also of Central China. Introduced by Messrs Veitch in 1881, in whose nursery at Coombe Wood, Kingston-on-Thames, was one of the first trees raised from Maries’ seeds, ultimately 30 ft high. Compared with many maples this is not a quick grower, which in small gardens may be counted an advantage, especially as the tree has a most interesting and distinct appearance at all times, and is very beautiful in autumn when the leaves turn rich red or yellow. The winter buds are long and pyramid-shaped, with overlapping scales. In wild specimens collected by Henry in Central China the leaflets are 7 in. long and 3 in. wide.
In cultivation, A. nikoense makes a small bushy tree or vase-shaped shrub. There are a number of examples at Westonbirt, of which the largest are: Mitchell Drive, 43 × 23⁄4 ft; Victory Glade, 42 × 31⁄4 and 40 × 3 ft (1966-7). Others recorded recently are: Hergest Croft, Heref., 35 × 5 ft at 2 ft (1960); East Bergholt Place, Suffolk, 30 × 21⁄4 ft (1966); Sheffield Park, Sussex, 30 × 21⁄2 ft (1960).
The above synonym is important, since it seems inescapable that it must supplant the established name A. nikoense Maxim. There has never been the slightest doubt about the identity of the maple described by Maximowicz, in considerable detail. Unfortunately, he cited as a synonym ?Negundo nikoense Miq., and the plant so named by Miquel is in fact either Acer cissifolium or possibly not a maple at all but a species of Parthenocissus (de Jong, Sex Expression in Acer, p. 147). Despite this, the herbarium specimen named Negundo nikoense by Miquel has to be regarded as the type of the name A. nikoense Maxim. Subsequently Miquel himself remarked that his Negundo nikoense was not the species described by Maximowicz and proposed for the latter the name A. maximowiczianum, which means that the genus will have one species under this name and another called A. maximowiczii. The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature permits this.
specimens: Nymans, Sussex, 40 × 41⁄4 ft at 1 ft (1983); Sheffield Park, Sussex, 40 × 33⁄4 ft and 50 × 41⁄4 ft (1979); Exbury, Hants, 52 × 31⁄4 ft (1978); Westonbirt, Glos., Mitchell Drive, 48 × 33⁄4 ft (1980), Victory Glade, 46 × 33⁄4 ft (1975), Main Avenue, 46 × 33⁄4 ft (1974); Hergest Croft, Heref., 40 × 51⁄4 ft at 2 ft (1971); East Bergholt Place, Suffolk, 46 × 41⁄2 ft (1973); Killerton, Devon, 42 × 4 ft (1985); Caerhays, Cornwall, 46 × 31⁄2 ft and 46 × 31⁄4 ft (1984); Trewithen, Cornwall, 44 × 41⁄4 ft (1985).