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Italian maple

Acer opalus (Familie Seifenbaumgewächse, Sapindaceae)

Distribution: Mediterranean area, north to the Swiss Jura and to the southern Alps, one occurrence with only a few individuals in southern Baden near Lörrach.

Appearance: Small tree or shrub up to 20 m tall; leaves palmately lobed with 3-5 ±rounded lobes, similar to the more familiar sycamore. From the latter, the very rare snowball-leaved maple can best be distinguished by its gray-brown winter buds, which are green in the sycamore.

The snowball-leaved maple is one of the rarest, if not the rarest by nature, of our native tree species. In Germany, it occurs growing wild in only one location and with only a handful of individuals in southern Baden near Lörrach. Since this otherwise mainly sub-Mediterranean maple is well adapted to warmth and drought, it should be planted more frequently in our region in the future.

grünes Ahornblatt

The leaves resemble those of the better-known sycamore maple (Photo: G. Aas)

Ahornbaum in voller Blüte

Stattliches Exemplar eines Schneeballblättrigen Ahorns  (Foto: G. Aas)

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