Young leaves and flowers of Vine Maple (Acer circinatum). Another stunning Pacific Northwest native tree available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Leaves of Vine Maple (Acer circinatum). Another stunning Pacific Northwest native tree available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Vine Maple tree with gorgeous autumn color (Acer circinatum). Another stunning Pacific Northwest native tree available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants Nursery in Portland, Oregon.

Vine Maple

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Acer circinatum

The multi-trunked vine maple is an iconic staple of majestic Pacific Northwest forests. It is easy to grow and its manageable height makes it ideal for those with limited space. In summer it flaunts lovely verdant leaves, while the stunning fall foliage is a brilliant element in native landscapes, ranging from yellow to brilliant red.

“Vine maples are important trees for wildlife. They provide nesting sites and cover for many birds and mammals. The vireo often weaves basket-like nests that hang in the forks of the branches. Birds use the seed stalks and leaves for nest building. As a food source, squirrels, chipmunks and birds eat the seeds. The caterpillars of the Brown tissue and Polyphemus moths forage on the leaves of their host plant.” (EMSWCD)

  • Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous, perennial, understory/small tree
  • Size at maturity: 20-25' tall, 15-20' wide
  • Light requirements: full sun, part-sun/part-shade, full shade
  • Moisture requirements: prefers moist, well-drained soils, but will tolerate seasonably wet to dry soils
  • Growth rate/ease: medium growth rate, easy to grow
  • Bloom time: March – June
  • Wildlife support: adult butterflies/nectar source, bees and other insect pollinators, beneficial insects/pest eating insects, caterpillar host plant/larval food source
  • Native range: Native to western North America, from southwest British Columbia to northern California, always within 300 km of the Pacific Ocean coast. Portland Plant List - yes.
  • Special features & uses: striking fall color, wildlife favorite, erosion control, hedgerow

Gardening with Vine Maple: It prefers well-drained soil and partially shaded habitats, but will do well in a wide range of light and moisture conditions. In the shade, it forms an open, loose shape as it spreads it branches in search of the sunlight. In open areas, it forms a fuller, multi-stemmed tree. Both forms are a wonderful addition to any habitat garden.

Photo Credit 1: "Vine maple" by CAJC: in the PNW is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo Credit 2 & 3: Tracy Cozine