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).