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ACER macrophyllum

Image of Acer macrophyllum

Lane Greer

Family

Aceraceae

Botanical Name

ACER macrophyllum

Plant Common Name

Big-leaf Maple, Oregon Maple, Pacific Maple

General Description

This immense deciduous tree bears the largest leaves of all maple species and is spectacular when it turns golden in the fall. It is counted among the few true western native maples, its range extending from foothills of Alaska to southern California and eastward to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is nearly always found in conjunction with streams and creeks. In warmer regions it grows at the base of north-facing slopes where perpetual shade and summer dampness support its need for moisture during the growing season.

The big leaves can be truly enormous and are borne heavily on upright stems. Trees produce inconspicuous wind-pollinated flowers in the early spring, which mature into winged seeds called samaras. The new leaves are bright yellow green and darken through summer. The change to gold begins with the cooling of late summer nights.

Grow this tree in sites with good moisture and partial sun. It is a good choice for expansive rural home sites with high water tables and perennially wet conditions in the west. Big-leaf maple creates habitat for wildlife, has high ornamental value and easily naturalizes. Further north its bark becomes home to mosses and ferns. This tree contains very sweet sap that can be distilled to create syrup that equals that of sugar maple.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 4

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    30'-95' / 9.1m - 29.0m

  • Width

    30'-40' / 9.1m - 12.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring

  • Native To

    Western United States, Northwestern United States, California, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water, Ample Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Red, Green

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow, Red, Green, Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green, Yellow Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Gold

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes