Vine maple

Acer circinatum
Vine maple Vine maple

A deciduous shrub or small tree, sometimes reaching a height of 20 metres; it has a short, crooked trunk, with twisted, spreading limbs and a low, irregularly shaped crown. The trunk sometimes grows almost horizontally and may root if it touches the ground. Vine maple can become a sprawling shrub that grows into dense thickets.

Vine maple leaves

Leaves are almost circular, 6 to 11 centimetres in diameter, with 7 to 9 lobes; the lobes are triangular, with sharp single or double teeth; bright yellowish-green on top, pale green and downy underneath, turning red or yellow in autumn.
Vine maple seeds
Vine maple bark Fruit
The fruit consists of winged seeds, 2 to 4 centimetres long, joined in pairs and borne in a cluster; the wings of the seeds are spread widely.

Thin and greenish, becoming reddish-brown; smooth, or sometimes with shallow cracks.

Where to find vine maple
It is mostly restricted to southwestern British Columbia, particularly at low to mid elevations. It occurs in a few places on southern Vancouver Island and in Wells Gray Provincial Park.

Vine maple occurs most frequently on moist soils, rich in nitrogen, particularly along the banks of streams and wet sites. It can live in the shade but also occurs in openings in the forest. Vine maple and alder are often the first trees to establish after landslides. Vine maple commonly occurs with bigleaf maple, Douglas-fir, western hemlock, grand fir, and Pacific dogwood, and sword fern underneath.

Where to find vine maple
Vine maple habitat Uses
The Coast Salish people used vine maple occasionally for bows and frames for fishing nets. The lower Thompson people used the wood for making snowshoes and cradle frames.

On the coast, the aboriginal people boiled the bark of the roots to make a tea for colds. They burned the wood to charcoal, mixed it with water, and drank it to combat dysentery and polio. They always collected the bark and wood early in the morning from the sunrise side of the tree.Caution

On the coast, vine maple is a beautiful garden shrub that looks similar to Japanese maple.

The common name probably comes from the gnarled and crooked appearance of the tree.

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