Vine Maple

(Acer circinatum)

Vine maple is widely distributed across the Willamette Valley and on moist sites in the shade of Douglas-fir or western hemlock. It grows at up to 5,000 feet in elevation. It is native to western North America and is found within 250 miles of the Pacific coast where soil is moist and the air is humid.

Vine maple looks like a shrub or small deciduous tree, growing to 20 feet with multiple stems. Flowers feature reddish calyx and five short greenish-yellow petals. Propeller-shaped seeds are called samaras and are what children of all ages often use to play “helicopters.”

The foliage is eaten by deer and elk, and the seeds are used by a wide variety of birds and small mammals.

It prefers damp cool weather with occasional sunlight. It has a good shade tolerance as an understory tree but can also tolerate full sun as long as the ground is moist. It can take temperatures down to -20°F but fries in hot, dry weather.

Vine maple wood has no commercial value but can be used for tool handles and firewood. It can also be used to enhance aesthetics, especially along well-traveled roads. It is prized for red fall foliage.


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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