HOME • return to plant lists: habitatsall plantsriparianwoodlandsunsubalpinebutterfliesbirds

Vine Maple · Acer circinatum

Description: Our lovely small maple, found everywhere in the Pacific Northwest, from woods to residential gardens. A deciduous, broadleaved tree or shrub (generally under 20 ft. but with potential height of 40 ft.) with opposite, lobed (5-9) leaves. Flowers put on a lovely show, clustered in the leaf axils before leafing out, with purple sepals and short white petals with eight stamens, March to June. These are followed by widely spaced "wings", red to orange in color, carrying the seed. Vine Maple grows straight and tree-like in open situations, multi-trunked and curvaceous in the shade, with elegant form. It often forms thickets in the lower slopes of hemlock and cedar forests, as drooping branches root and grow. Normally an understory tree in our woods, it will grow in full sun but requires a moist root-run. Stunning fall color! Vine maple provides cover and food (seeds) for birds, including grosbeaks, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and finches. Good nectar source for bees. Part sun/shade, regular water.

Lewis and Clark collected a specimen, on which label Frederick Pursh wrote:"A very handsome Species of Maple. On the great rapids of Columbia.Octbr:1805."