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Big-leaf Maple

The Acer Macrophyllum is commonly known as Big-leaf Maple, Bigleaf Maple, Broadleaf Maple, as well as Oregon Maple

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Growing Regions

Bigleaf maple occurs in the Pacific Coast region from just south of the Alaska Panhandle in British Columbia south through the western portions of Washington and Oregon to southern California [20]. It is generally restricted to the west side of the Sierra Nevada-Cascade crest [28]. Bigleaf maple's northern distribution is apparently restricted by cold temperatures. Its southern and interior distribution seems restricted by insufficient moisture and humidity [20,30]. At the southern end of its range, bigleaf maple is usually restricted to canyons or riparian habitats [11,28].


General Information

The currently accepted scientific name of bigleaf maple is Acer macrophyllum Pursh. [36,38,41,44]. There are no recognized varieties, subspecies, or forms.

Bigleaf maple occasionally forms pure stands on moist soils near streams, but trees are generally found in riparian hardwood forests or scattered under or within relatively open canopies of conifers, mixed evergreens, or oaks (Quercus spp.). Bigleaf maple most often occurs in - Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis)-western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) old growth forests of the Olympic rain forest [21] - Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), grand fir (Abies grandis), or redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forests - Mixed evergreen forests dominated by Douglas-fir, tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflora), Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii), chinkapin (Castanopsis chrysophylla), coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), Californi live oak (Q. chrysolepis), Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi), sugar pine (P. lambertiana), or ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa) [21,54] - Oregon white oak (Q. garryana) woodlands [21,29,56] - Deciduous or mixed deciduous/coniferous riparian forests dominated by red alder (Alnus rubra), white alder (A. rhombifolia), Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), black cottonwood (Populus tricocarpa), willows (Salix spp.), or Douglas-fir [2,7,21,22,49] Published classification schemes listing bigleaf maple as a dominant part of the vegetation in community types (cts) or plant associations (pas) are presented below: Area Classification Authority WA: North Cascades NP Forest Cover Types Agee and Kertis 1987 nw OR: Tillamook Burn postfire cts Bailey & Poulton 1968 OR, WA general veg. cts Franklin & Dyrness 1973 CA redwood forest cts Zinke 1977 CA, OR: Siskiyou Mtns general veg. pas Atzet and Wheeler 1984

Much of the information presented here is attributed to:
Uchytil, Ronald J. 1989. Acer macrophyllum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available at USDA Forest Service.

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