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Reproduction of Italian Maple

Reproduction of Italian Maple

The Italian maple (Acer opalus Mill.) Is a tree of the Sapindaceae family, native to southern Europe, spread from Spain and France to the Balkans.

Suitable breeding habitat –
Italian Maple is a plant that occurs in both arboreal and shrub form and which is native to an area of ​​southern Europe ranging from Spain and France to the Balkans. In Italy it is present in the center-south, excluding Sardinia.
Its range extends into the central and northern Mediterranean and continues into the Balkans and Asia Minor. It is also present in northern Africa: Morocco and Algeria.
In Italy we find it in the northern regions and along the Apennines up to Umbria. The maximum altitude reached is around 2100 meters above sea level and is not uniformly distributed.
Its habitat is that of montane forests, often at high altitudes.

Propagation –
Acer opalus is a very cold-resistant plant, able to tolerate temperatures down to about -25 ° C when dormant.
It is an easy to grow plant that grows best in full sun or partial shade; from a pedological point of view it needs calcareous soils with good drainage but which retain moisture.
Propagation occurs by seed.
Sowing should be done as soon as the seed is ripe in winter and usually germinates in the following spring.
It is advisable to soak the stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify it 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. In this case it should germinate in late winter. If the seed is harvested too early, it can produce weak plants or not fully germinate.
Before being planted in single pots, the seedlings must have a height of about 8-10 cm. Here they grow up to about 20 cm, after which they can be transplanted in the open field.
Propagation can also be carried out by cuttings. The cuttings should be taken from young shoots in early summer. The cuttings should have 2 – 3 pairs of leaves, plus a couple of buds at the base. A very thin portion of the bark at the base of the cut must be removed, rooting improves if a rooting hormone is used. Rooted cuttings must sprout during the summer before being potted otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter.

Ecology –
Acer opalus is a thermophilic and basophilic species occupying preferably the chestnut area, it also extends into that of the beech.
This species can form small pure woodlands or be mixed with other trees. It prefers calcareous soils, which appear both on stony substrates, in hedges and in the cool and shady areas of humid woods, and on well-developed soils. It resists cold as does Montpellier maple (Acer monspessulanum L.), but not dry. We can find it at altitudes between 200-300 m to 2100 m.

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