Big Leaf Maple

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Latin: Acer macrophyllum


• Height can reach 35m (116ft)

• Often moss covered

• Leaf has 5 lobes and looks like a human hand 15–30cm (6–12in) across

• Deciduous (leaves fall every autumn)

• Winged seeds spin like helicopters


• Dry to moist areas

• Found on disturbed sites

Cultural Uses:

• Leaves used to treat sore throats, to rub on a young man’s face so he wouldn’t grow whiskers, and as temporary containers

• Inner bark used to make rope

• One of the most useful woods in the Northwest for wood-carving

• Called “Paddle tree.” Why?

• Used commercially to make furniture and musical instruments

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Interesting Facts:

• Has more mosses and other plants growing on it than any other tree in the Pacific Northwest

• Often draped with licorice fern

• Often survives up to 200 years

• The dead wood is used by the Swinomish, by Chehalis and Quinalt for smoking salmon

• The only known medicinal use of maple is by the Klallam, who boil the bark and drink the mixture for tuberculosis


• Flowers are pale yellow and hang in clusters in April, before the leaves appear

• Flowers depend on insects for fertilization

• Winged seeds are 3–6cm (1.2–2.4in) long and appear in late summer to early winter

Source: Pojar, J. & A. MacKinnon. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast (1994) Drawings by: Debby Goodwin, Melissa Matassa and Rebecca Helms

Often found with Speckled tar spots, or "Zombie" Fungus, on fallen leaves. - The blooming of the Big Leaf Maple marks the beginning of the spring in Washington's forests. Ushered in by the sound of croaking frogs and the Pacific-Slope Flycatcher's song, spring bring a cacophony of sights and sounds to the forest. In this video watch the progression of the Big Leaf Maple through the changing seasons. Try to identify bird songs or play it with your eyes closed to identify the different sounds of the seasons.