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Mountain Maple (Acer spicatum Lam.)

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Mountain Maple
Photo © Quentin Groom, Public Domain.


An understory shrub or small tree native to the northeastern U.S. and northern Midwest, and also found at high elevations in the Appalachians.

Range - Expand

Native or Not Present

This tentative map is based on our own research. It may have limited data on Canada and/or Mexico, and there is some subjectivity in our assignment of plants as introduced vs. expanded. Read more in this blog post.

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Found in cool forests that are consistently moist year-round. Found in rich, moist, rocky soils, especially along streams. Also found on drier or well-drained, acidic soils. Also can be found on exposed talus slopes, and in bogs.

Although usually an understory plant, can be a canopy shrub on barren cliff faces.

Tolerates a range of lighting conditions from full sun to deep shade. When in shade, typically found in conditions where low levels of indirect light are combined with short bursts of sunlight resulting from the motion of canopy leaves in the wind; mountain maple has unique structural adaptations to benefit from this type of lighting conditions.

Often occupies a temporary shrub layer in the intermediate successional stages of northern forests. Found in the understory of forests of quaking aspen, red pine (Pinus resinosa), and jack pine. Undisturbed jack pine stands can be colonized by this species and other shrubs, which are eventually replaced by white spruce (Picea glauca), black spruce (P. mariana), and balsam fir.

In more stable climax communities, mountain maple can alse be found in the understory of mature spruce-fir or balsam fir forests.

Mountain Maple | Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) (About This Site)

Acer spicatum (Mountain Maple) | USDA PLANTS Database (About This Site)

Acer spicatum | Go Botany (About This Site)

Mountain Maple | Virginia Tech Dendrology Factsheets (About This Site)

Acer spicatum | Biota of North America Project (BONAP) (About This Site)

Acer spicatum | NatureServe Explorer (About This Site)

Mountain Maple | Maryland Biodiversity Project (About This Site)

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Photo © Quentin Groom, Public Domain.
Photo © raffib128, Public Domain.
Photo © Nart Barileva, Public Domain.
Photo © Summit Metro Parks, CC BY 4.0.
Photo © Derek, CC BY 4.0.
Photo © aarongunnar, CC BY 4.0.
Photo © Charlie Hohn, CC BY 4.0.
Photo © Charlie Hohn, CC BY 4.0.
Photo © Charlie Hohn, CC BY 4.0.