Acer circinatum • Vine Maple

Acer • Maple • カエデ • 楓 • kaede

[The text below was prepared by SJG Plant Committee for docent maple training in fall 2013]

 There are many Acer circinatums in areas F,O,V,Y, ZZE.  The multi-stemmed shrub or tree reaches a mature size of 30 to 40 feet.

The bark is smooth green to reddish gray, and the twigs are reddish. The 4” green round shaped leaves have 7-11 broad lobes. They are not deeply cut and have toothed margins. The leaf bases are heart shaped.

The flowers are purple-red in clusters and the samaras deep red at maturity, with an almost 180 degree spread.

The leaves are orange-red in the fall. The vine maple is native to Pacific Northwest, a common understory tree in western coniferous forests, and a favorite food of deer. The young limbs are flexible, often used for snow shoes frames and drum hoops.


SJG • 10/4/13 – Acer circinatum • Vine Maple in Area ZZE. It’s usually marked for Maple Fest, as it stands on its own little island by the west fence, but frankly is somewhat underperforming in our fall environment, and hardly ever gets promised orange-red leaves then. In the picture above the leaves appear reddish, but it’s just light on them.


SJG • 10/4/13 – Acer circinatum • Vine Maple in Area ZZE, LEAVES. The leaves usually go fast from yellow to rusty brown and fall within 2-3 weeks. The a. circinatums in other, more sunny parts of the garden retain leaves a little bit longer, but also don’t get orange/red, but mostly rusty brown.

From WSU Clark County Extension, PNW Plants (click for better colored leaves pic of this native to our area maple): Acer circinatum […]  The foliage is borne on twisted, spreading limbs (hence the term vine). While it often resembles a shrub in the forest, with multiple stems sprouting the base of the plant, vine maple forms a small erect tree. Trunks tend to be thin and crooked, and greenish in color when they are young, but age to reddish-brown. 

[…] Vine maple flourishs as an understory tree in moist woods with dappled shade and along stream banks. In native stands vine maple commonly occurs with bigleaf maple, Douglas-fir, western hemlock, grand fir, and Pacific dogwood, with sword fern underneath. […]


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