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Mountain Maple Acer spicatum

Phonetic Spelling
AY-ser spih-KAY-tum
Description

Acer spicatum is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 10–25 ft. tall, forming a spreading crown with a short trunk and slender branches. The leaves are opposite and simple, 2 - 5 in. long and wide, with 3 or sometimes slightly 5 shallow broad lobes. They are coarsely and irregularly toothed with a light green hairless surface and a finely hairy underside. The leaves turn brilliant yellow, orange to red in autumn, and are on slender stalks usually longer than the blade. The bark is thin, dull gray-brown, and smooth at first but becoming slightly scaly. The fruit is paired reddish samara 3⁄4–1 1⁄4 in. long, maturing in late summer to early autumn.

The sap is a source of sugar and can be boiled to make maple syrup. The bark contains tannins, which are used in tanning leather.

Not well-adapted to cultivation. 

Growth Rate: Slow to moderate

Form: Short trunk; bushy habit

Exposure: Sun to partial shade; prefers cool, shady, moist soil

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#fall color#full sun#partial shade#wildlife plant#moths#tree#maple#nighttime garden#native garden#larval host plant#pollinator garden#moth larva#imperial moth
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#fall color#full sun#partial shade#wildlife plant#moths#tree#maple#nighttime garden#native garden#larval host plant#pollinator garden#moth larva#imperial moth
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Acer
    Species:
    spicatum
    Family:
    Sapindaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Northeastern North America
    Distribution:
    Saskatchewan to Newfoundland, to Pennsylvania, to high elevations of the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia
    Wildlife Value:
    Members of the genus Acer support Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) larvae which have one brood per season and appear from April-October in the south. Adult Imperial Moths do not feed.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    2a, 2b, 3b, 3a, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Samara
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Paired reddish samara 3⁄4–1 1⁄4 in. long, maturing in late summer to early autumn
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small, greenish yellow flowers in early summer
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    2 to 5 in. opposite, simple, leaves with 3 or sometimes slightly 5 lobes; yellow, orange to red fall color.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Furrowed
    Scaly
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Thin, brownish or grayish brown. Smooth eventually becoming slightly furrowed or scaly.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Young stems grayish developing purplish red, often greenish on one side. The bark contains tannins, which are used in tanning leather.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Pond
    Riparian
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Attracts:
    Moths
    Pollinators