Bigleaf Maple

Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum)
Acer macrophyllum

Acer macrophyllum (Bigleaf or Oregon Maple) is a large deciduous tree. It grows to 35 m tall, but more commonly 15 m to 20 m tall. It is native to western North America, mostly near the Pacific coast, from southernmost Alaska south to southern California. Some stands are also found inland in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains of central California, and a tiny population occurs in central Idaho.

It has the largest leaves of any maple, typically 15-30 cm across, with five deeply-incised palmate lobes, with the largest running to 61 cm. The flowers are produced in spring in pendulous racemes 10-15 cm long, greenish-yellow with inconspicuous petals. The fruit is a paired winged samara, each seed 1-1.5 cm diameter with a 4-5 cm wing.

In the more humid parts of its range, as in the Olympic National Park, its bark is covered with epiphytic moss and fern species.

Cultivation and Uses

Maple syrup has been made from the sap of bigleaf maple trees. While the sugar concentration is about the same as in sugar maple (Acer saccharum), the flavor is somewhat different. Interest in commercially producing syrup from bigleaf maple sap has been limited.

The lumber from this tree has diverse uses, such as furniture, piano frames and salad bowls. Highly figured wood is not uncommon and is used for veneer and guitar bodies.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Hummingbirds, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 90ft
  • Mature Width:70ft