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bigleaf maple Acer macrophyllum

Bigleaf maple, with a range from California to British Columbia, is one of the few commercial hardwoods native to the Pacific coast. Though not as desirable for wood products as many of its coniferous associates, bigleaf maple is used for specialty products. It also make a fine shade tree with beautiful fall color and provides quality firewood.

range map Click to see more images. fall color

Light
A vigorous stump-sprouter, bigleaf maple competes heavily with more preferred species, especially Douglas-fir, and it is often managed as a weed. Deliberate regeneration of bigleaf maple is uncommon. If bigleaf maple is present, it will likely out-compete its associates.

Water
Occurs most commonly on moist, well-drained soils from sea level to 5500 feet from British Columbia through southern California on the westside of the Cascades and Sierra Nevadas.

Growth

Size
A large tree, commonly 40 to 100 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet in diameter. In the open, it branches low to the ground and forms a rounded crown; in dense stands it grows taller and straighter. Commonly sprouts from the base and forms large basal burls.

Timber Value
Bigleaf maple is used for veneer, furniture, flooring, interior paneling, and musical instruments, especially piano frames.

Wildlife Value
Deer and elk browse twigs and foliage. Seeds, buds, and flowers are eaten by numerous small mammals and birds.
Attracts mice, woodrats, squirrels, chipmunks, beavers, deer, elk, finches, grosbeaks

Insects and Diseases

Fun Facts
Bigleaf maple is the largest of all the maples. Large basal burls are sliced into beautiful veneer for furniture. The sap can be made into maple syrup, but because of its lower sugar content than sugar maple it takes much more sap to create syrup.

Latin Meaning
Acer: Latin name - sharp (leaves or used as lances) or Celtic "ac" (hard) / macrophyllum: large leaf

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Landowner Factsheets © 2004 Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved. Text, images, and programming by: Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Dr. John R. Seiler, John A. Peterson, Edward C. Jensen, Guy Phillips, or Andrew S. Meeks.