Acer macrophyllum

Thank you to ngawangchodron for posting Today’s Botany Photo of the Day, chosen specifically for Canada Day, on our Flickr pool. Steve Coughlin wrote the entry. (Original Image)

Though often classified in the family to which they give their name, Aceraceae, Maples are more properly considered part of the related Sapindaceae, which consists of 140-150 genera and between 1400 and 2000 species—trees, herbaceous perennials, lianas—that are distributed widely throughout the world. Generally, these species have pinnately compound leaves, small flowers, and dry, fleshy fruits.

Acer is a genus of about 125 species, most of which are deciduous trees, though there are also evergreens and shrubby species. The genus tends to establish dense root systems, and is primarily distinguished by its oppositely arranged, mostly palmate leaf configuration. Maples flower in late winter or early spring, and their vivid fall foliage often draws vast amounts of urban dwellers into the countryside. Beyond their popularity as ornamentals, Maples also serve as parts of collections, as integral parts of local tourism industries, as timber, as raw materials for the production of musical instruments, and, of course, as sources of the sap that is eventually converted to maple sugar and maple syrup.

Acer macrophyllum, the tree featured in today’s photo, can grow to a height of 30 metres and to a trunk diameter of 1.5 metres. When mature, its trunk is sheathed in an intricately interlaced bark of dark brown. As its name suggests, A. macrophyllum grows the largest leaves of any Maple. Trees generally establish in moist soil near water and are adapted to growing under a canopy. Bigleaf Maple’s hard wood is used in the production of furniture, instruments, veneer, and other commercial products as well.

Acer macrophyllum

17 responses to “Acer macrophyllum”

  1. elizabeth a airhart

    to our good friends in canada
    the very best from florida usa
    this page is one of the my delights
    the map down below shows just how
    popular you are
    thank you

  2. Meg Bernstein

    Hooray for maples. They grow everywhere I live and maple syrup is a major industry. Happy Canada Day!

  3. Margi Willowmoon

    We enjoy tempera using the fresh inflorescences of Acer macrophyllum. The texture is light and the flavor is delicious. Such a beautiful tree! And the leaves make copious amounts of great compost!

  4. Todd A. Christensen

    Gorgeous picture!

  5. Steven Randolph

    Happy Canada Day! The Big-leaf maples are truly a treasure of the Puget Sound – Strait of Georgia Region. They are a joyous tree. Their huge racemes of blossoms announce that Spring is arriving; while the excellent golden yellow fall color brightens the dark coniferous forests for weeks. The shade is a wonderful dappled light in spite of such huge leaves – very unlike the dense shade of a Norway maple. Most trees in our area (Bothell, WA just NE of Seattle) are multi-trunked (yet 50-70 ft high)and are garlanded with moss and clumps of epiphytic ferns. Their younger trunks are a lighter gray that contrasts beautifully with the mosses and ferns. A wonderful tree to sit under and admire.

  6. phillip

    ….ah ..yes the mapels…
    in the 1970’s , myself and friends lived on 120 acres in Vermont…a 120 acres of mapels…sugar shack and all.
    one of the most profound memories i have…ever…is very early spring…standing on frozen ground…beside a 16″ long wood fired hearth…skimming off the impurities and opening the gates to further reduce the sap into syrup.
    this large cloud of sweet steam-vapor is amazing…at times you can barley see a foot in front of you..then a shift of wind…and lo and behold…my friend on the other side of the hearth is standing there…. smiling a smile as big as mine….!

  7. Mohammed Tohaa

    With maple come to mind CANADA and vice verse.wishin u all happy july day.

  8. Melissa

    Did anybody scroll up and down while looking at these beautiful trees? What perspective! You suddenly feel very small. It’s really cool. Try it!

  9. Toni MacNeil

    The Big Leaf Maple made me smile. Year ago, my brother who was visiting from Sask., told me of spotting these magnificent maples with humungous leaves. He asked an old man passing by as to what was the name of the maple. The man smiled and replied “That’s a Big Leaf Maple, son”. My brother never forgot that!

  10. Judy

    The Maple Leaf forever and ever!
    We not only enjoy maple trees and the syrup but we have had an extra special Canada Day as a beaver has been visiting our yard for the last few days.
    Does it get anymore Canadian, eh?

  11. Natalie

    Beautiful tree, beautiful photo!

  12. sam

    Boooooo Sapindaceae!!!
    Yay Aceraceae!!!
    Leave the poor maple in its own family you rotten lumpers!

  13. Byron MacAdam

    In BC (and ,I suspect, anywhere this tree grows)Bigleaf Maple is host to more biomass than any other tree. Often covered in dense layers of moss,ferns,shrubs,other trees, and many little critters and insects. One of my favourites! No criticism here, but a separate pic of their huge leaves would have been great.

  14. Eric in SF

    Byron, I have a set of photos of this species, take a look:
    There are at least a couple decent leaf shots.

  15. Hortbeardie

    Eric – Loved your series of Acer macrophyllum
    pictures on Flickr. They are stunning!

  16. aljablan

    I LOVE THE BEAUTY of the maples and enjoy making maple syrup but hate them for being the most murderous trees of other species. The maples in our backyard murdered my apple trees which actually produced a nice crop for about five years then were overwhelmed by the towering maples. As if that wasnt enough they destroyed our wild flower garden killing all wildflowers and finally destroyed the lawn as well leaving nothing but bare ground. The birches the lilacs the mountain ash the evergreens spruces balsam firs cedars yews hemlocks none of them destroy other plants, but the maples do. Evidently an imperialist genus as it brooks no opposition or even commensal under its canopy. Is this impression true?

  17. Eric in SF

    I’m trying to understand why you are ascribing human cultural definitions to a plant living in an ecosystem. I find it does nothing but confuse people and in certain cases, as I’ve mentioned before in regards to parasitic plants, leads to willful destruction of plants!
    From a scientific and landscape/garden design perspective, it’s clear you were unaware of the growth rate and canopy cover of these trees. A simple case of picking the wrong plant for the wrong place, nothing more. A learning experience! If these are in your garden, then they can be removed and more suitable plants put in.

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