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Mountain Maple (Acer spicatum)

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Summary

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

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Native

This tentative map is based on the FHWA's ERA. This data lacks information on Canada, but also overestimates native ranges, especially around the edges, as this post explains. We have not yet reviewed or fixed this map.

USDA Plants Profile for Acer spicatum

Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) Article for Acer spicatum

Similar Plants

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
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Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum)
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Habitat

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.

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