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A small tree, perhaps up to 50 ft high, or a shrub, with very downy young twigs. Leaves with three deep main lobes, the terminal one usually three-parted, the side ones two-parted. The leaf thus often becomes seven-parted, but the shape is not uniform, and although the three main lobes are always there, the subsidiary divisions vary in number. Some of the leaves have a maple-like appearance, the blade being 2 to 4 in. wide, scarcely as long, heart-shaped at the base; the stalk 3⁄4 to 2 in. long. The upper surface is glabrous and bright, the lower one downy, more especially on the veins and midrib; margins finely toothed. Flowers white, 11⁄2 in. across, in small terminal corymbs, calyx-lobes long, triangular, with a dense white wool on both sides. Fruits usually reduced to from one to three in a corymb, 5⁄8 to 3⁄4 in. across, globular or pear-shaped, crowned with the calyx-lobes, red or yellow. Bot. Mag., t. 9305.
Native of Syria, the Lebanon, N. Palestine, and Greek Thrace, but rare both in the wild state and in gardens. There is an example at Kew near the ginkgo measuring 30 × 31⁄4 ft (1967). It was planted in 1900.
M. trilobata is a very distinct species, and there is much to be said for following those botanists who have treated it as a distinct genus. The distinguishing characters are the combination of lobed leaves, large flowers in a simple umbel, the petals concave, woolly-ciliate at the base, and notably clawed, so that there is a distinct gap between adjacent petals at the base, sepals longer than the densely tomentose receptacle and densely tomentose on both sides, ovary prolonged upwards in the receptacle as a densely hairy cone from which arise five styles united at the base into a densely tomentose column; mature fruit with stone-cells, usually only one cell fertile, with one or two seeds. The fleshy part of the fruit embraces and encloses the conical part of the ovary, leaving only a small depression at the top of the fruit in which is the hairy columnar base of the styles.