Acer spicatum

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Acer spicatum
NAS-047 Acer spicatum.png
1819 illustration[1]

Secure (NatureServe)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Sapindaceae
Genus: Acer
Species: A. spicatum
Binomial name
Acer spicatum
Lam. 1786
Acer spicatum range map 1.png
Natural range
Flowering tree

Acer spicatum (mountain maple) is a species of maple native to northeastern North America from Saskatchewan to Newfoundland, and south to Pennsylvania. It also grows at high elevations in the southern Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia.[2]

Acer spicatum is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 3–8 m (9-26 feet) tall, forming a spreading crown with a short trunk and slender branches. The leaves are opposite and simple, 6–10 cm (2-3 inches) long and wide, with 3 or 5 shallow broad lobes. They are coarsely and irregularly toothed with a light green hairless surface and a finely hairy underside. The leaves turn brilliant yellow to red in autumn, and are on slender stalks usually longer than the blade. The bark is thin, dull gray-brown, and smooth at first but becoming slightly scaly. The fruit is a paired reddish samara, 2–3 cm long, maturing in late summer to early autumn.[3]

The tree lives in moist woods in rich, well-drained soils on rocky hillsides and along streams. It also grows on ravines, cliff faces, and forested bogs. During ecological succession, it colonizes the understory as pioneer species die.[4]


The sap is a source of sugar and can be boiled to make maple syrup. The bark contains tannins, which are used in tanning leather. Indigenous peoples infused the piths of young twigs to produce treatments for eye irritation and made poultices from boiled root chips. It is also said to be used to relieve stress in humans.[5]


  1. ^ 1819 illustration. Source The North American sylva, or A description of the forest trees of the United States, Canada and Nova Scotia ... to which is added a description of the most useful of the European forest trees ... Translated from the French of F. Andrew Michaux.
  2. ^ Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
  3. ^ Shrubs of the Northwoods, Earl J.S. Rook, Acer spicatum Moose Maple
  4. ^ Little, Elbert L. "National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region." New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1980. ISBN 0-394-50760-6.
  5. ^ Plants For A Future

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