A deciduous shrub or tree to 15 m. Bark greyish-brown. Branchlets glabrous, purplish-red, turning darker and woody by the end of the first year. Buds, ovoid, with 5 to 8 pairs of imbricate scales. Leaves broadly pentagonal to orbicular in outline, base hastate to truncate, (3–)5– to 7-lobed, 8–10 × 10–25 cm across, lobes lobulate and apically acuminate, upper surface bright green, lower surface glossy green, glabrous except for tufts in vein axils; petiole 5–20 cm long, green, glabrous, often grooved, broadest at base, exuding a milky sap when cut; autumn colours yellow. Inflorescence terminal, corymbose, erect. Flowers yellowish-green, 5-merous, stamens 8. Samaras 2.5–5 cm long, wings spreading at right angles to erect. Nutlets flattened. (Murray 1969; Murray 1975; Krüssmann 1984; van Gelderen et al. 1994).
Distribution Afghanistan Kyrgyzstan Pakistan Tajikistan Turkmenistan Uzbekistan
Habitat Temperate forests and steppe habitats.
USDA Hardiness Zone 5-6
RHS Hardiness Rating H7
Conservation status Data deficient (DD)
Taxonomic note Treated as a subspecies of Acer platanoides by van Gelderen et al. (1994), but treated as a species here.
Somewhat harshly described as ‘unimportant’ by Clarke (1988), Acer turkestanicum is closest to A. cappadocicum in leaf shape, largely lacking the toothed lobes associated with the also related A. platanoides. It appears closer to the latter species however, on account of its shoots turning brown and woody by the end of the first growing season, rather than staying green and photosynthetic for several years. Clarke (1988) gives the date of introduction as 1961, ‘from the Botanical Garden of the Tadzhik S.S.R.’, from which a single tree grows at Kew. The authenticity of this specimen as A. turkestanicum is however somewhat dubious. Material of Kyrgyzstani origin has recently found its way into circulation, courtesy of Pan-Global Plants (2019). Plants of this source are suggested to be ‘probably the only plants in UK cultivation of this attractive, very hardy maple’ Pan-Global Plants (2019). Elsewhere in Europe, it is grown at Rogów Arboretum, Poland, though there it the poorest performer of all maples. From several specimens from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan only one now survives. It is exceptionally slow growing and it has often been injured by frosts (P. Banaszczak, pers. comm. 2020).