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Acer macrophyllum Pursh
Bigleaf maple, Big-leaf maple
USDA Symbol: acma3
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
Small to large tree with broad, rounded crown of spreading or drooping branches and the largest leaves of all maples. Big-leaf maple is usually a 20-75 ft. tree. Though it occasionally reaches 100 ft., it is generally much smaller in cultivation. Lateral branches soar upward from the massive, squat trunk, becoming huge, vertical limbs in older specimens. The bark is gray to reddish-brown and furrowed. Dark, glossy-green, deciduous foliage, often more than a foot in width, turns yellow-orange in fall. The common and scientific names describe the very large leaves.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf Retention: Deciduous Leaf Arrangement: Opposite Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous Leaf Margin:
Lobed Breeding System:
, Monoecious Inflorescence: Raceme Fruit Type: Samara Size Notes:
Height 30-100 feet, spread 30-50 feet or more, diameter 2 to 4 ft. Leaf:
Blue-green turning reddish-yellow in the Fall. Dark green above and lighter green below. Autumn Foliage:
Double samaras with wings, green turning brownish, tan when ripe. 1 3/4 to 2 inches long. Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Flowers follow leaves in Spring.
CA , OR , WA Canada: BC Native Distribution:
Cismontane CA, n. to B.C. Native Habitat:
Higher altitude stream banks & moist canyons; below 5000 ft. USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Cool, moist soils.
Conditions Comments: This plant needs a spacious setting. Underplanting is often difficult. The high productivity of seeds can make this an invasive species.
A handsome shade tree
and particularly showy in autumn, it is popular on the Pacific Coast. Use Wildlife:
Important forage for deer, squirrels and other wildlife. Use Food:
Maple sugar can be obtained from sap
and maple flowers are sweet and edible and can be used in salads. Young shoots can be eaten raw in the spring. Use Other:
Coastal peoples use the wood to make dishes, paddles, the inner bark
for baskets, ropes. Thin strips of inner sapwood used to make clothing by various indigenous peoples. Wood used for weft in basketry and for lances, counting sticks, and toys by indigenous Californians. The only western maple with wood of commercial importance, it is used for veneer, furniture, handles, woodenware, and novelties. Fragrant Flowers:
Seeds , Softwood Cuttings Description:
Use fresh seed. Seed Collection:
The winged fruit
of maples is called a samara. Seed is usually not extracted from the samara. Seed Treatment:
Stratify seeds for 2 months. Commercially Avail:
Do not prune in Spring.
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
- Santa Barbara, CANative Seed Network
- Corvallis, OR
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Record Modified: 2008-10-18
Research By: TWC Staff