Acer spicatum Lam.
Aceraceae (Maple Family)
USDA Symbol: acsp2
Mountain maple is a small, understory tree, 20-35 ft. tall, with multiple trunks and a mushroom-shaped habit. Its bark is maroon-purple to reddish-brown and its dark, yellowish-green foliage consistently turns mottled-orange to bright-red in the fall.
Mountain Maple is hardy and adapted to partial shade. The Latin species name, meaning spiked, refers to the long spikelike flower clusters. Rabbits, beavers, deer, and moose browse the bark, and ruffed grouse eat the buds. Some tribes boiled the young twigs with a pinch of alum and used the solution to soothe eyes irritated by smoke. (Kershaw)
Mountain maple is very important for preventing erosion on streambanks and steep slopes. When spreading branches become buried in leaf litter, they put down roots and send up new shoots. This process can produce impenetrable thickets on recently cleared land. (Kershaw)
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Red, Brown
Size Class: 12-36 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
DistributionUSA: AL , CT , GA , IA , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC , SK
Native Distribution: Nf. to e. Sask., s. to NJ, uplands to GA & TN, MI & n.e. IA
Native Habitat: Cool, moist, wooded hillsides & flats
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Moist, cool, acid soils.
Conditions Comments: Mountain maple is disease and insect resistant but needs protection from wind and sun. It adapts to most soils.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Very high.
Use Medicinal: Some tribes boiled the young twigs with a pinch of alum and used the solution to soothe eyes irritated by smoke. (Kershaw)
PropagationDescription: Propagation is possible by seed.
Seed Collection: The winged fruit of maples is called a samara. Seed is usually not extracted from the samara.
Commercially Avail: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 1258 - Trees of Ontario (2007) Kershaw, Linda
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Acer spicatum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Acer spicatum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Acer spicatum
MetadataRecord Modified: 2014-10-17
Research By: TWC Staff