Vine Maple

Acer circinatum

Overstory

I’m not sure when I first appreciated the fact that I had a mature vine maple growing in its ideal habitat. Below two Douglas-firs that tower over our patio and house, this tree couldn’t have been better placed. And we’ll never know if that’s thanks to a previous homeowner or nature.

I’m going with nature, considering how other native shrubs and trees have sprouted up on their own, since I’ve lived here. Regardless, it’s happy; spreads wide, reaches high, and gets tangled in the branches above. When we professsionally pruned the Douglas-firs in 2015, limbing them up about 10 feet, some of the vine maple’s branches were too reliant on them, and came sagging down. I made some corrective cuts, not all perfect.

With added space and light, the tree has expanded its reach and its color in spring, summer, and fall is everything you’d want from a deciduous tree. I just wish the invasive eastern grey squirrels would stop chewing off new growth and tearing up bark, as they make their way up, into the Douglas-firs to nest.

Location

In the back, just up from the patio, it reaches through the understory and filters new colors each season.

Details

Origin

North America; Northwest native.

Size

20′+. Several trunks combine for a width of ~10′ at ground level. It was well established before we bought our house.

Benefits

A native tree that thrives in the understory of conifers. The primary benefit is that it handles dry, shady conditions. Also useful is that most of the leaves grow toward the top third, so it works well near a pathway, or even a structure.

Family

Aceraceae

Relatives

None listed (yet)

Page updated on March 08, 2021.