Acer macrophyllum (Big Leaf Maple)


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Plant Description: Long-lived medium to large sized tree. Bigleaf maple has a broad, rounded crown with lateral branches that soar upward from a massive trunk. The bark is gray to reddish-brown and furrowed. With the largest leaves of all maples, they have five lobes reaching as much as 15 inches in diameter.

The flowers, small, greenish-yellow, and fragrant, are produced in drooping clusters (racemes) appearing in early spring - usually April - before or with the leaves. The flowers and sap of the tree are edible. *NEVER CONSUME PLANTS WITHOUT PROPER ID*

The seeds are winged samaras and are covered with very small, dense hairs that can be painful if touched by a naked hand. Fall color is yellow, orange or copper.

  • Height: Rapidly grows 50-75 ft, occasionally reaching heights of 100 ft.
  • Watering needs: Requires deep soakings during dry season until established
  • Sun needs: Sun, partial shade
  • Soil needs: Moist soil
  • Portland Plant List (Backyard Habitat Certification): Yes

Landscape Use and Ecological Function: Native from British Columbia to Southern California, from sea level to 5,500 ft, mostly west of the Cascades, and is usually found growing lower than 4900 ft in elevation. Because the bark of this tree retains moisture, its trunk and large branches are often covered with mosses, liverworts, and ferns. Recommended for use in rain gardens, woodland gardens, and food forests. 

This tree serves as a canopy - the leaf litter, high in nutrients, enriches the soil where they grow. The shallow, wide spreading root system, well suited to saturated soils, makes it extremely flood tolerant and a great tree for erosion control. It is an ecologically important plant as it is host to a wide variety of mammals, birds, and epiphytic plants and fungi. Wildlife will be attracted to the habitat this tree provides.

*Photos by SevenOaks Nursery*

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