Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Northwest Native Maples


  Plantae – Plants


  Tracheobionta – Vascular plants


  Spermatophyta – Seed plants


  Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants


  Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons






  Aceraceae – Maple family


  Acer L. – maple


Species of this genus native to the Pacific Northwest: Washington, Oregon, California and some Canadian Provinces

Acer L. Maple
Acer circinatum Pursh Vine Maple
Acer glabrum Torr. Rocky Mountain Maple
Acer glabrum Torr. var. douglasii (Hook.) Dippel Douglas Maple
Acer glabrum Torr. var. torreyi (Greene) Smiley Torrey Maple
Acer macrophyllum Pursh Bigleaf Maple
Acer negundo L. Boxelder
Acer negundo L. var. negundo Boxelder
Acer platanoides L. Norway Maple

General Information For This Genus

Click on links at bottom of this page for photos and details of each plant.

Note: Throughout the years I've written short articles for our website's home pages (home pages are the front page of a website) about these plants. They are now included at the bottom of this page, and are illustrated by botanical drawings and paintings, some of which are from books published from 1500 - 1900.

Maples are trees of great beauty in different ways for different seasons. In winter their skeletons are revealed, showing comforting patterns against the winter skies. Springtime starts the juices pumping, sprouts tip each branch, the leaves awaken and unfurl. Summer maples are at last fully foliaged, and the flowers draw pollinators of bird and bee.

It is later in the year that maples give their astounding show of fall color--the leaves of crimson and gold brighten each tree and then float to the ground making a crazy quilt of natural mulch. And then, worn from the annual journey each tree must travel, they settle down to rest before the spring awakening comes again.

"Maples comprise one of the largest, most diverse, and most important groups of broadleaved trees in the world. There are about 125 species of maples in the world, with most living in China and the Far East. Maples are noted for their oppositely arranged and palmately lobed leaves, and their propellor-like seeds, called samaras."

From Oregon State University's Common Trees of the Pacific Northwest http://oregonstate.edu/trees/broadleaf_genera/maple.htm

Valerie Rose has written a very nice paper, Trees for Fall Foliage, October 8, 2010. She explores the visual impact maples give the landscape. She begins:

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

See the article at http://skagit.wsu.edu/mg/2010AA/100810.pdf

Species Information For This Genus

Click on links below for photos and details of each plant.

As yet, not all northwest native acers are covered in this website, though that may be done some time in the future. For now, we have information about only three of our northwest native acers.

Acer circinatum (Vine Maple) Acer circinatum is a beautiful small, deciduous tree, essential for native gardens. Found as an under story plant to tall evergreens, from southern BC to northern California and east to the Cascades, Vine Maple is hardy in USDA zones 7-8.
Acer glabrum (Douglas Maple) Douglas Maple is native to both sides of the Cascades, from southeastern Alaska to southwestern Alberta and south into New Mexico and California. It thrives at high elevations and is hardy to USDA zones 5-10.
Acer grandidentatum (Bigtooth Maple, Rocky Mountain Sugar Maple) This western version of the beloved Sugar Maple has sweet edible sap that runs in colder regions much like that of its Eastern cousin. While it can reach 50’, it will most likely remain 20-30’ tall at maturity and be nearly as wide.
Acer macrophyllum (Big-Leaf Maple) Among the most handsome of maples, these impressive trees host a variety of moss, lichens and Licorice Ferns on their very bark, adding to their incredible beauty.
If you're up for a little autumn afternoon crafting, the maple "helicopters" make delightful dragonflies.

From Homepage March 4, 2005

Old favorites northwest native maples, Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) and Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) are often available in bare root form, ready for planting in your yard.

These two are quite different and both are beauties, sure to please year round but especially glamorous in their fall colors. The flaming scarlet and rich golden hues brighten crisp autumn days. Of course, the summer green is just as lovely. Vine Maple will grow even in shade! They need watering the first year as do almost every young plant. Once established they'll tolerate summer drought handily. They will not thrive in intense heat however. Perfect for understory planting.

The "Big Mack," Acer macrophyllum, gives a generous show of creamy yellow flowers in spring, lovely against those big 1 foot leaves. This tree hosts a wide variety of moss and lichen and will often sport Licorice Ferns right on their bark. Plant Salal or Sword Fern or Oregon Grape 'neath the Acer macrophyllum's wide branches. Be sure to leave room for a hammock or maybe an old fashioned glider. Plan on picnics in the shade of your tree in just a few years.

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