Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of J.S. Peterson, USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.

Bigleaf maple

Scientific name
Acer macrophyllum
Plant Family
Big-leaf maple trees can reach up to 100 ft in height. The leaves are simple, opposite, large, dark green, and are deeply lobed. The leaf margins are usually undulating.
Identification Hints

Big-leaf maple trees can reach up to 100 ft in height. The leaves are simple, opposite, large, dark green, and are deeply lobed. The leaf margins are usually undulating.

Did You Know?

The inner bark of Bigleaf maple used to be dried and ground up into a powder that was used to thicken soups, just as we sometimes use cornstarch or flour to thicken soups and stews today.

Leaves
Leaves are simple, opposite, shiny, dark green, and large. They are 6 to 12 in (15 to 30 cm) long and borne on long stem-like structures (petioles; 2 to 5 in or 5 to 12 cm long) that attach them to the stem. The leaves are deeply lobed, and the margins are usually undulating or with shallow lobes.
Flowers
The separate male and female trees have sweetly fragrant flowers. They are creamy white colored and bean-like, arranged in a pyramid shaped spike. The flower clusters are 4 to 8 in (10 to 20 cm) long and the individual flowers have five petals.
Fruits
Bigleaf maple seeds are two winged “helicopters”, known as samaras. They are approximately 0.98 to 1.57 in (2.5 to 4 cm) long, brown in color, with stiff-yellowish hairs.
Bark
On young stems and twigs, the surface is smooth and gray to brown, becoming red-brown with age. Older branches have deeply fissured bark, which eventually fragments into separate scales.
Habitat
Bigleaf maple is most common in coarse and gravelly soils in dry to somewhat moist habitats. It is most abundant near the borders of low elevation mountain streams and in river bottoms.
Bloom Time
Late spring.
States
CA, OR, WA