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Acer spicatum (Mountain maple)
Smith, R.W.

Acer spicatum

Acer spicatum Lam.

Mountain Maple

Aceraceae (Maple Family)


USDA Symbol: ACSP2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N), SPM (N)

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

6 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Samara
Size Notes: Up to about 35 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Red, Brown

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


USA: 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 Conditions

Water 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.


Use 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)
Attracts: Birds


Description: 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

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According 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


Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 1258 - Trees of Ontario (2007) Kershaw, Linda

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Acer spicatum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Acer spicatum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Acer spicatum


Record Modified: 2014-10-17
Research By: TWC Staff

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