Acer pensylvanicum

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Acer pensylvanicum
Moosewood leaves.jpg
Striped Maple leaves, Cranberry Wilderness, West Virginia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Aceraceae
Genus: Acer
Species: A. pensylvanicum
Binomial name
Acer pensylvanicum
Acer pensylvanicum range map.png
Natural range

Acer pensylvanicum (striped maple, also known as moosewood and moose maple) is a species of maple native to northern and montane forests in eastern North America from southern Ontario east to Nova Scotia and south to Wisconsin, Ohio, and New Jersey, and also at higher elevations in the Appalachian Mountains south to northern Georgia.[citation needed]

It is a small deciduous tree growing to 5–10 m tall, with a trunk up to 20 cm diameter. The young bark is striped with green and white, and when a little older, brown. The leaves are broad and soft, 8–15 cm long and 6–12 cm broad, with three shallow forward-pointing lobes. The fruit is a samara; the seeds are about 27 mm long and 11 mm broad, with a wing angle of 145° and a conspicuously veined pedicel.[citation needed]

The spelling pensylvanicum is the one originally used by Linnaeus.


Striped maple growing at the edge of a forest with pine and hickory in the background (Zena, New York)

Moosewood is an understory tree of cool, moist forests, often preferring slopes. It is among the most shade-tolerant of deciduous trees, capable of germinating and persisting for years as a small understory shrub, then growing rapidly to its full height when a gap opens up. However, it does not grow high enough to become a canopy tree, and once the gap above it closes through succession, it responds by flowering and fruiting profusely, and to some degree spreading by vegetative reproduction.[1]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Striped maple is sometimes grown as an ornamental tree for its decorative bark, although it is difficult to transplant.[citation needed]

The wood is soft and considered undesirable among maples.[citation needed] Although ecologically there is no reason to consider it a pest, foresters sometimes consider the striped maple to be unwanted, often cutting it or applying herbicides to kill it. Its shade tolerance makes it difficult to control, as it is often present in great numbers in the understory.[citation needed]

The sap causes a dermal contact dermatitis apparently milder than poison ivy.[citation needed]

The leaves are often used as makeshift toilet paper, prompting the nickname "woodsman's friend"

Related species[edit]

Acer pensylvanicum is a species in the snakebark maple group, Acer section Macrantha. Other species in the section, such as Acer capillipes, Acer davidii, and Acer rufinerve, all native to eastern Asia, share similar leaf shape and similar vertically striped bark.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Hibbs, D. E; B. C. Fischer (1979). "Sexual and Vegetative Reproduction of Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum L.)". Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 106: 222– 227. 

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