Acer cappadocicum Gleditsch

Modern name

Acer cappadocicum Gled.


A. laetum C. A. Mey.; A. pictum colchicum Hort.

A deciduous tree up to 70 ft high, branchlets remaining green the second year. Leaves green on opening, five- or seven-lobed, heart-shaped at the base, 3 to 6 in. across, glabrous except for tufts of hairs in the axils of the veins; the lobes broadly triangular, but drawn out to a long tail-like point; leaf-stalk milky when broken. Flowers in corymbs about 2 in. long, yellow. Fruits with wings 114 to 134 in. long (twice to four times as long as the nutlets), spreading at a wide angle.

Native of the Caucasus and Asia Minor; introduced in 1838. There is much confusion between this maple and A. mono (formerly known as A. pictum) and many trees bearing the label “A. pictum” are really cappadocicum. The best means of distinguishing between the two (as seen in cultivation) is by the second-year wood; in A. cappadocicum this remains smooth and greenish or purplish, while in A. mono it becomes wrinkled or fissured and grey-brown. The typical form appears to be less common in cultivation than the garden variety ‘Rubrum’ (see below), but is represented at Kew by a tree of 45 × 234 ft (1966); the ultimate height in cultivation is probably around 60 ft.

cv. ‘Aureum’. – Leaves yellow in the spring, becoming green, and again yellow in the autumn. Once grown as “pictum aureum”. Probably first distributed by Hesse’s nurseries, Germany. There is an example at Kew 45 × 5 ft (1966) and another of about the same size at Westonbirt, Glos. but the tallest recorded grows in the West Dean Arboretum, Sussex, and measures 55 × 614 ft (1967).

cv. ‘Rubrum’. – Unfolding leaves blackish red; on young trees the leaves at the tips of the summer growths are bright red. An old garden form, propagated by grafting or layers; introduced to Britain in 1846 and probably first distributed by Booth’s nurseries, Hamburg. It is commoner in cultivation than the normal form and more desirable. It has rarely exceeded 60 ft in cultivation but there are two trees at Westonbirt, near the Main Gate, one 75 × 7 ft and another, a sucker from this, 77 × 334 ft (1966). Similar forms are found wild in Dagestan on the western shores of the Caspian Sea, where, according to Van Volxem, they grow intermixed with the type, with all shades of difference between the two extremes; f. rubrum (Kitchn.) Rehd. is a collective name, referring to all such forms, wild or cultivated.

cv. ‘Tricolor’. – Young leaves variegated red, pink, and cream. A branch sport from ‘Rubrum’. (Carrière in Rev. Hort., 1886, p. 371.)

A. cappadocicum, in its typical state, extends to the western shores of the Caspian and perhaps a little further east, into Persia. From there on, in the mountains of Persia, throughout the Himalaya, and in W. and Central China, it is represented by the following varieties:

var. cultratum (Wall.) Bean A. cultratum Wall. – As defined by Pax in his monograph, this variety comprised all the eastern representatives of A. cappadocicum from Persia to China. The differentiating characters given by him were: leaves harder in texture than in the type, with only five lobes and truncate (not cordate) at the base; wings of fruit spreading horizontally. However, the Chinese part of this variety has been detached as:

var. sinicum Rehd. – This differs from the Himalayan form in its smaller leaves, with narrower and longer lobes; introduced by Wilson and later by Forrest. This variety, at least as seen in cultivation, is remarkable for its bright red fruits. There are two specimens at Kew, measuring 31 × 212 and 44 × 434 ft, and another in the garden of the late Sir Frederick Stern at Highdown, about 30 ft high. It was given an Award of Merit when shown from Kew in June 1958.

f. tricaudatum (Rehd.) Rehd. – A form of var. sinicum in which the leaves have only three lobes; introduced by Wilson in 1901 and again in 1908 (W. 1358).

A. amplum Rehd. – A small tree closely related to A. cappadocicum but with larger leaves (to 7 in. across), more broadly lobed. It was introduced by Wilson from W. Szechwan in 1901 and later by Forrest from Yunnan. A tree from the latter’s sending is about 20 ft high at Messrs Hilliers’ nurseries and there is another from the same source at Borde Hill, Sussex. It is 25 × 134 ft in the Glasnevin Botanic Garden. The var. tientaiense (Schneid.) Rehd. is also in cultivation; it differs from the type in its smaller, mostly three-lobed leaves, with narrower, longer lobes.

Other Chinese species belonging to the same group as A. cappadocicum are A. catalpifolium Rehd., with almost unlobed leaves, and A. longipes Franch. ex Rehd., which differs from A. amplum mainly in the downiness of the leaves.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

On its own roots, this species suckers vigorously. The impression was given that only ‘Aureum’ colours in the autumn, but in fact a fine yellow autumn colour is a feature of the species as a whole.

specimens: (of the normal form and ‘Rubrum’): Chilham Castle, Kent, 75 × 8[1/4] ft (1983); Green Park, Bucks., 55 × 8[1/2] ft (1984); Leigh Park, Hants, 62 × 9 ft (1977); Westonbirt, Glos., by Main Gate, a sucker from a tree which died, 82 × 4 ft (1977), in The Downs, 59 × 8 ft (1980), in Specimen Avenue, 75 × 7[1/2] ft (1981), in Morley Drive, 84 × 6[1/4] ft (1978), Willesley Avenue (E) 75 × 7[1/2] ft (1982); Westonbirt House, Glos., 62 × 9[1/4] ft and 70 × 8[3/4] ft (1982); Colesburne, Glos., 70 × 8[1/2] ft (1984); Dupplin Castle, Perths., 46 × 9[1/4] ft (1983); Castle Leod, Ross, 50 × 7[1/2] ft (1980); National Botanic Garden, Glasnevin, Eire, 60 × 7[1/2] ft (1980); Birr Castle, Co. Offaly, Eire, 70 × 8 ft at 3 ft (1985); Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, 70 × 8[1/2] ft (1985).

From the above it will be seen that A. cappadocicum attains a greater ultimate height than the 60 ft suggested in the second paragraph.

var. [cultratum] – The correct name for this variety is: var. indicum (Pax) Rehd., with synonyms A. lobelii subsp. laetum var. indicum Pax; A. cultratum Wall.; A. laetum var. cultratum (Wall.) Pax; A. cappadocicum var. cultratum (Wall.) Bean.

This variety occurs through most of the Himalayan region, but probably not in central Asia.

var. sinicum – There are two examples at Kew: pl. 1909, 30 × 3 ft (1981) and, pl. 1914, from Wilson 1358, 56 × 5[1/4] ft (1979).

A. amplum – The example at Borde Hill, Sussex, measures 42 × 3 ft (1974).



Other species in the genus