With huge leaves as big as your head, the Bigleaf Maple brings many delights! In spring, edible six inch long clusters of small yellow flowers dangle from its twigs. The flowers transform into chains of large, fuzzy, double—winged samaras by summer, when the impressive leaves and towering height provide essential shade. In humid areas, the mature bark supports epiphytic moss, lichens, and fern species, while its sturdy branches and trunk are perfect for swings, hammocks, or treehouses.
- Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous, perennial, overstory/large tree
- Size at maturity: 90' tall, 70' wide
- Light requirements: full sun, part-sun/part-shade
- Moisture requirements: moist to dry soil
- Growth rate/ease: fast growth rate, easy to grow
- Bloom time: March –June
- Wildlife support: seeds, buds and flowers are a favorite food of many birds and small mammals, especially Douglas squirrels; flowers attract and provide nectar to hummingbirds, adult butterflies, bees and other insect pollinators; seedlings and saplings are browsed by deer and elk; overall plant attracts and supports beneficial and pest eating insects and is a caterpillar host plant and larval food source for native butterflies and moths
- Native habitat/range: found along stream banks and moist forested sites across British Columbia and West Coast states, from southern Alaska to southern California, with some stands in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas and central Idaho. Portland Plant List – yes.
- Special features & uses: wildlife favorite; commonly used in furniture making and other wood crafts such as piano frames, salad bowls, and instruments; sap can be made into syrup (check out the Oregon Maple Project); landscape uses include woodland gardens, erosion control and windbreaks
Gardening with Big Leaf Maple: Big leaf maple will thrive in full to part sunlight and moist to dry, well-drained soil. That said, it tolerates seasonally wet soils as well. When grown in the open, the Bigleaf Maple will form a broad, spreading canopy and a short stout trunk, the perfect overstory element to any woodland garden.
Photo Credit 1: Tara Lemezis, TIny Seed Photography
Photo Credit 2, 3 5: Nikkie West, Sparrowhawk Native Plants
Photo Credit 4: "Acer macrophyllum, Bigleaf Maple" by born1945 is licensed under CC BY 2.0