Guide Montpellier Maple (Acer monspessulanum)

Genre steel encompasses approximately 160 species of maples (although there are about 700 described) well distributed throughout the northern hemisphere. One of these species which is well adapted to the Spanish Mediterranean climate and which extends through countries with similar climatic conditions is the Montpellier maplewhose scientific name is Acer monspessulanum.

Although this maple is a wild species, there are many instances where it is used as ornamental plant for large gardensespecially when looking for a large deciduous tree, to create a blanket of orange leaves in the fall, with its foliage dropping.

It also has modern uses, adapting to bonsai cultivation, given the strength of its wood, its slow growth and the size of its leaves.

Anyway, in this article we want to tell the most important features of the montplilier maple.


Characteristics of steel monspessulanum or Montpellier Maple

Acer monspessulanum It is a deciduous tree of medium size (between 10 and 15 meters), which generally inhabits warm forests and mixes with other species typical of the limestone areas of the Mediterranean.

It is considered a medium-lived tree, with a survival of up to 100 years, slow growth and with good characteristics for regrowthespecially in well-lit conditions.

  • Trunk: diameter between 50-75 cm, bark dark gray and soft to the touch, which cracks over time. The wood of its branches and trunks is considered to be of high quality.
  • Sheets: trilobed type (common in the genus steel), between 3 and 6 cm in size, intense green in color, slightly porous in texture. They fall easily in autumn, when the low temperatures arrive (approximately in November).
  • Flowering period: It blooms from April to June, forming 3 cm yellow pendulums.
  • Fruits: disámaras (flat fruits that fly easily) 3 cm in diameter, formed by 2 wings (di-samara) of the same size.
Montpellier maple (Acer monspessulanum), Valdebebas (Madrid). Source: Fran Villegas Romero (El País).

Habitat and geolocation

It mainly inhabits warm areas in spring and with a certain cold in winter that guarantees the early fall of its leaves for the future spring budding. It is usually found in the Northern Hemisphere (United States, parts of Europe and East Asia).

Acer monspessulanum is relatively easy to find Mediterranean countries of Europe (Spain, Portugal, Morocco) and extending into Western Asia (Turkey and Lebanon), finding some isolated populations in northern Europe (France and Germany).

At Spain, the main populations are located in the north, with a preference for the eastern zone.


Ordered Sapindales
Family Sapindaceae
sex steel
Species Acer monspessulanum

Other Acer species:

development conditions Acer monspersulanum

Location and weather

Acer monspersulanum it’s good adapted to the Mediterranean climate, with some drought in summer and cold in winter. It generally lives in more isolated conditions compared to other trees of the genus steelas it does not usually form groups, although it grows naturally with other species of similar ecology, such as holm oaks (Quercus ilex), Welsh oaks (Quercus faginate).

Location in the garden: isolated areas, with good ventilation and full disposal of sunlight since its transplant.

Resistance: wide temperature range and different humidity conditions (preference for dry environments), as well as high drought resistance.

Development height: from sea level to 1500 m altitude.

ground conditions

Its natural habitat is forests of warm temperatures and calcareous soilswith a high presence of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which raise the pH to alkaline conditions (pH > 7.5, generally).

Montpellier maple can thrive in all soil typesthanks to the great resistance and vigor of its roots, even in rocky areas, preferring environments with good drainage and a tendency to dry soils (such as sandy or loamy soils) as opposed to wet and waterlogged soils (clay ).

Common Uses of Montpellier Maple

Historically, the wood of this maple was used for carpentry, highly valued for its color, reddish, and for its resistance. Indeed, it is used to make small objects, in cabinetmaking, as well as musical instruments.

On the other hand, its good aptitude for size and its resistance allow it to adapt to bonsai cultivationespecially because of the small size of its leaves and the appearance of the wood.

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