Mountain Maple

Mountain Maple

Acer spicatum Lam.

Description

Mountain maple is a member of the soapberry family (Sapindaceae). It is a multi-stem shrub ³ or small tree that seldom exceeds 25 feet tall. ¹  The opposite leaves have 3 to 5 shallow lobes and where 5-lobed, the lower two lobes are obscure.  The leaf blade is 3 to 6 inches long with serrated margins. ¹  The underside of the leaf has small white hairs.  The flowering stalk is erect and up to 3 inches long with male flowers towards the end and female flowers at the base. ³  The individual flowers are less than one inch wide. ¹  Fruits are pairs of winged seeds (samaras) each about one-inch long and at right angles to one another. ²

Mountain maple with leaves and flowers.  Maryland Biodiversity Project 4

Fruits of mountain maple.  Trees of the Adirondacks ³

Distribution

Mountain maple is distributed from Newfoundland to Sasskatchewan, Canada, along the Great Lakes region and south along the Appalachian Mountains to North Carolina and Tennessee. ³ In Maryland it is restricted to the mountains of Allegheny and Garrett counties. 4

200602 Mountain Maple (Acer spicatum) - USGS Distribution Map.jpg

Native distribution of mountain maple.  USGS 5

Wildlife Importance

Mountain maple is browsed by white-tailed deer and moose. ²  It is also used by American beaver for food and dam construction.  It supports the larvae of Imperial Moth¹ , the Dagger Moth and Banded Tussock Moth. 4  Ruffed Grouse consume the buds. ³

Economic Importance

Mountain maple has little economic importance.  It is generally unavailable in commercial trade and difficult to cultivate. ¹

Threats

There are few serious threats to mountain maple. ¹  It is affected by aphids and scale in addition to fungi. 6

Interesting Facts

  • Mountain maple is easily confused with striped maple.  It may be distinguished by having erect flowers, hairs on the lower leaf surface, no green-striped stems. ³

References

  1. North Carolina State Extension:  Acer spicatum
  2. Minnesota Wildflowers:  Acer spicatum
  3. Trees of the Adirondacks:  Mountain maple (Acer spicatum)
  4. Maryland Biodiversity Project:  Mountain maple
  5. USGS:  Mountain maple
  6. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: Mountain maple

Contributed by J. Hull

Towson University Glen Arboretum

Towson University

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