There is much confusion in the nomenclature of this maple. It is very variable and some of the forms now considered varieties have in the past been treated as distinct species[
Acer hispanicum Pourr.
Acer italum Lauth
Acer leptopterum Guss. ex Nyman
Acer montanum Carradori ex Lam.
Acer opulifolium Chaix
Acer pseudoplatanus opulifolium (Chaix) Loudon
Acer rotundifolium Lam.
Acer rupicolum Chabert
Acer sabaudum Chabert
Acer aetnense K.Koch
Acer neapolitanum Ten.
Acer tomentosum Dulac
Common Name: Italian Maple
Acer opalus is a deciduous tree with a rounded crown; it can grow 9 - 19 metres tall, though sometimes it is much smaller or even bushy[
The plant is harvested from the wild for mainly local use of its wood. It is commonly grown as an ornamental in gardens.
Europe - Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Balkans to Greece; N. Africa - Morocco, Algeria
Montane forests, often at high elevations[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Acer opalus is a very cold-hardy plant, able to tolerate temperatures down to around -25°c when dormant[
Acer species are generally of easy cultivation, growing best in full sun or light, dappled shade and succeeding in most well-drained but moisture-retentive soils[
This is one of the most ornamental of early-flowering trees, producing its blossoms regularly and in great abundance in early spring[
The light pink or reddish-brown wood resembles that of sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), but it is denser, heavier, and with a more satiny lustre. It is used for carpentry, turnery, cart making etc[
The wood is an excellent fuel, giving off a lot of heat[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it usually germinates in the following spring. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify for 2 - 4 months at 1 - 8°c. It can be slow to germinate. The seed can be harvested 'green' (when it has fully developed but before it has dried and produced any germination inhibitors) and sown immediately. It should germinate in late winter. If the seed is harvested too soon it will produce very weak plants or no plants at all[
]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until they are 20cm or more tall before planting them out in their permanent positions.
Layering, which takes about 12 months, is successful with most species in this genus.
Cuttings of young shoots in early summer . The cuttings should have 2 - 3 pairs of leaves, plus one pair of buds at the base. Remove a very thin slice of bark at the base of the cutting, rooting is improved if a rooting hormone is used. The rooted cuttings must show new growth during the summer before being potted up otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter.
If seed is unavailable, the plant can be grafted onto A. buergerianum.