Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours
Stratification: cold stratify for 90 days
Germination: sow seed 3/8" deep, tamp the soil, mulch the seed bed
Other: fall sowing in mulched beds is prefered to artificial stratification
Introducing the Montpellier Maple (Acer monspessulanum)! This unique and rare maple variety is native to the Mediterranean region, ranging from Morocco and Portugal in the west to Turkey and Lebanon in the east, and even reaching the Jura Mountains in France and the Eifel in Germany.
Montpellier Maple is a medium-sized deciduous tree or densely-branched shrub that can grow up to a height of 10-15 meters, occasionally reaching 20 meters. It boasts a sturdy trunk with a diameter of up to 75 cm and has smooth, dark grey bark when young, which becomes finely fissured on older trees.
One of the most striking features of the Montpellier Maple is its small three-lobed leaves, which measure around 3-6 cm in length and 3-7 cm in width. These leaves are glossy dark green, with a smooth margin and sometimes a leathery texture. Their beauty is further enhanced by the smooth, slender petioles that hold them. Interestingly, the leaves of this maple variety fall very late in autumn, typically in November.
In spring, the Montpellier Maple showcases its beauty with pendulous flowers in yellow to white corymbs. These flowers, which grow to be 2-3 cm long, add a touch of elegance and charm to the tree. And let's not forget about the samaras, which are 2-3 cm long and feature rounded nutlets.
While Montpellier Maple is often mistaken for Field Maple (Acer campestre), it can be easily distinguished by the clear sap in its leaves (which are milky-white in Field Maple) and the narrower angle between its samara wings.
This maple variety offers great potential for bonsai enthusiasts. Its small leaves and shrubby habit respond well to techniques that encourage leaf reduction and ramification, resulting in bonsai with a unique appearance. Unlike other maples, such as Acer palmatum, Montpellier Maple bonsai have denser foliage, showcasing an unconventional beauty.
Although it is rarely seen in cultivation outside of arboreta, Montpellier Maple can be found in the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, Massachusetts, and the arboretum of the Montreal Botanical Gardens. It has become increasingly popular due to its adaptability to warmer climates and full sun, with partial shade in midsummer.
If you're looking for a distinct and visually appealing maple for your garden or bonsai collection, the Montpellier Maple (Acer monspessulanum) is an excellent choice. Its small, glossy leaves and robust growth make it a standout addition to any landscape. Explore the beauty of this Mediterranean gem and bring a touch of elegance to your outdoor space!