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The Growth of Bigleaf Maple 20+ Years after Harvesting

Author(s) or contact(s): G. Harper, P. Comeau, and K. Thomas
Source: Forest Practices Branch
Subject: Hardwoods and Mixedwoods
Series: Extension Note
Other details:  Published 2012. Hardcopy is available.


Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum Pursh) is a component of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii [Mirb.] Franco) and red alder (Alnus rubra Bong.) stands and occasionally occurs in pure stands in southern portions of the Coastal Western Hemlock biogeoclimatic zone (Meidinger and Pojar 1991) of British Columbia. Its best growth is on the moist and rich soils of river terraces, floodplains, and seepage sites at relatively low elevations (below 300 m) (Haeussler et al. 1990; Minore and Zasada 1990).

Bigleaf maple is a valuable commercial tree species (Minore and Zasada 1990) capable of reaching 30 m in height and 120 cm in diameter. The wood is used for higher-value appearance-grade products, such as flooring, furniture, and millwork. Bigleaf maple is also being tapped for syrup production in some parts of the British Columbia coast.

After harvesting, the stumps of bigleaf maple sprout vigorously and can produce up to 60 stump sprouts with growth of 2.m or more in height annually (Lauterbach and Warren 1982; Cole and Newton 1990). Bigleaf maple sprout clumps (hereafter called clumps) can reach a crown diameter of 5 m in 2 years, and by 40 years, a maple clump can cover an area as large as 100 m2 (Thomas and Comeau 1998).

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Updated January 16, 2013