Acer glabrum

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Acer glabrum
Acer glabrum 4809.JPG
A. glabrum subsp. douglasii, Olympic National Forest
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Sapindaceae
Genus: Acer
Section: Acer sect. Glabra
A. glabrum
Binomial name
Acer glabrum
Torr. 1827
Acer glabrum range map 1.png
Natural range
  • Acer barbatum Hook. 1831 not Michx. 1803
  • Acer neomexicanum Greene
  • Acer torreyi Greene
  • Acer tripartitum Nutt.

Acer glabrum is a species of maple native to western North America, from southeastern Alaska, British Columbia and western Alberta, east to western Nebraska, and south through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Colorado to California, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.[2]


Acer glabrum is a small tree growing to 6–9 metres (20–30 feet) tall, exceptionally 12 m (39 ft), with a trunk around 13 centimetres (5 inches) in diameter, exceptionally around 25 cm (10 in).[3] The leaves are 2–13 cm (34–5 in) broad, three-lobed (rarely five-lobed),[3] variable in the depth of lobing, occasionally so deeply lobed as to be divided into three leaflets; the lobes have an acute apex and a coarsely serrated margin. The flowers are produced in corymbs of five to ten, yellowish-green, at the same time as the new leaves in spring. The fruit is a samara or winged seed, which develops in fused pairs at an angle of less than 45° when mature, though some varieties spread out to 90°.[3][4][5]


There are four to six varieties, some of them treated by some authors at the higher rank of subspecies:[2][5][6]

  • Acer glabrum var. glabrum (syn. subsp. glabrum; Rocky Mountain maple)– Rocky Mountains, Montana to New Mexico
  • Acer glabrum var. diffusum (Greene) Smiley (syn. subsp. diffusum (Greene) A.E.Murray; Rocky Mountain maple) – eastern California, Nevada, Utah
  • Acer glabrum var. douglasii (Hook.) Dippel (syn. subsp. douglasii (Hook.) Wesm.; Douglas maple) – Alaska south to Washington and Idaho
  • Acer glabrum var. greenei Keller (Greene's maple) – endemic-central California
  • Acer glabrum var. neomexicanum (Greene) Kearney & Peebles (syn. subsp. neomexicanum (Greene) A.E.Murray; New Mexico maple) – New Mexico
  • Acer glabrum var. torreyi (Greene) Smiley (syn. subsp. torreyi (Greene) A.E.Murray; Torrey maple) – endemic-Northern California

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Acer glabrum is plentiful in many parts of the Rocky Mountains, Cascade Mountains, Olympic Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, often growing with ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, and quaking aspen.[7] It can be found in dry rocky areas.[3]


It tends to be found in brush fields arising from fire-disturbed sites. Conifers tend to replace it in well-forested areas.[3] The foliage is browsed by game animals (especially deer and elk in winter), cattle, and sheep.[3][8]


Native Americans utilized the strong stems for snowshoe frames, bows, and other applications.[3] Some Plateau Indian tribes drink an infusion of Douglas maple as a treatment for diarrhea.[9] Ramah Navajo use an infusion of the glabrum variety for swellings, and also as a "life medicine", or panacea.[10][11]


  1. ^ Barstow, M.; Crowley, D.; Rivers, M.C. (2018). "Acer glabrum". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018: e.T193546A125923759. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T193546A125923759.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Acer glabrum". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Arno, Stephen F.; Hammerly, Ramona P. (2020) [1977]. Northwest Trees: Identifying & Understanding the Region's Native Trees (field guide ed.). Seattle: Mountaineers Books. pp. 257–258. ISBN 978-1-68051-329-5. OCLC 1141235469.
  4. ^ Plants of British Columbia: Acer glabrum
  5. ^ a b Jepson Flora Project: Acer glabrum var. diffusum, var. greenei, var. torreyi
  6. ^ USDA Plants Profile: Acer glabrum
  7. ^ USDA Forestry Service, Fire Effects Information: Acer glabrum
  8. ^ Whitney, Stephen (1985). Western Forests (The Audubon Society Nature Guides). New York: Knopf. p. 394. ISBN 0-394-73127-1.
  9. ^ Hunn, Eugene S. (1990). Nch'i-Wana, "The Big River": Mid-Columbia Indians and Their Land. University of Washington Press. p. 351. ISBN 0-295-97119-3.
  10. ^ Vestal, Paul A. 1952 The Ethnobotany of the Ramah Navaho. Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology 40(4):1-94 (p. 36)
  11. ^ "BRIT - Native American Ethnobotany Database".

Further reading[edit]

  • Justice, DE; Reid, AR; Bohm, BA (1995). "Vacuolar flavonoids of rocky mountain maple, Acer glabrum torrey (Aceraceae)". Biochemical Systematics and Ecology. 23 (3): 263–265. doi:10.1016/0305-1978(95)00014-L.

External links[edit]