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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

        - 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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