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Reproduction of the Lobel’s maple

Reproduction of the Lobel’s maple

Lobel’s maple (Acer cappadocicum Gled. Subsp. Lobelii (Ten.) A.E. Murray) is a rare maple, endemic to central-southern Italy.

Suitable breeding habitat –
The Lobel’s maple is an endemic species of the southern Apennines and is found in areas attributable to the Fagetum pedo-climatic class of the Campania, Basilicata and Calabria regions where it is present in a discontinuous way in the hilly and mountain plan (typically between 700 and 1700 m ).

Propagation –
Acer cappadocicum Gled. subsp. lobelii is a plant that is grown as an ornamental tree in northern Europe, prized for its narrow canopy which makes it suitable for confined spaces. Many of the trees in cultivation are grafted onto Acer cappadocicum rootstocks, as evidenced by the numerous root-bearing shoots of Acer cappadocicum.
The plant propagates by seed. The seed should be sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold environment; it usually germinates the following spring. It is advisable to soak the 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 fully developed but before it has dried out and produced any germination inhibitors) and sown immediately. It should germinate in late winter. If the seed is harvested too early, it will produce very weak plants or no plants at all.
Once germinated it is recommended to place the small seedlings in individual pots and grow them to a height of 20 cm or more before transplanting them into their permanent positions.
Stratification, which takes about 12 months, is successful with most species of this genus.
It can also be propagated through cuttings taken from young shoots in early summer. The cuttings should have 2 – 3 pairs of leaves, plus a couple of buds at the base. During the operation it is recommended to remove a very thin portion of the bark at the base of the cut, rooting improves if a rooting hormone is used. Rooted cuttings must show new growth over the summer before being potted otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter.

Ecology –
Lobel’s maple is a rare and, unfortunately, endangered plant in Italy; it is present only in small groups in the habitats of the Italian sclerophyllous and semi-deciduous forests. It was widely considered endemic in southern Italy, but is now also present in the western Balkans (ex Yugoslavia), with a distribution quite closely matched to Pinus heldreichii (Bosnian pine).
It is closely related, and in some respects intermediate between, Acer cappadocicum, from Asia, and Acer platanoides, from the far north of Europe, hence Acer platanoides subsp. lobeli. It has been suggested that it could be a natural hybrid between them, but the differences from both, in particular the strongly glaucous flowering on the young shoots, make it more reasonable to classify them as a distinct species.
The plant grows in habitats with sunny places and humid soils, although it does not fear harsh temperatures.

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