Graceful beauty, versatility, durability, great fall color: these are just a few of the reasons that Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) is widely considered to be one of the very best native trees for the home landscape here in Oregon.
If you’ve ever hiked along one of the many creeks or rivers in southwest Oregon, chances are you’re already familiar with Vine Maple. They generally grow as an understory tree, but are also able to grow in sunny areas – although they do best with a bit of afternoon shade.
The shape and size of a Vine Maple is frequently dependent upon where it is grown - they can range in height from about 6’ to 20’. Trees grown in sunny areas tend to be upright and fairly compact, while shade-grown trees develop the gorgeous horizontal branching form that gives this tree its common name.
In the spring, branch tips are covered with clusters of dangling, delicate-looking red and white flowers that are extremely popular with a wide variety of bees (both native bees and honeybees); followed by slightly rounded, bright green leaves. These leaves are not only lovely to look at – they’re also an important food source for the larvae of the beautiful Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.
Vine Maple colors up nicely in the fall, with leaf color ranging from golden-yellow to orange to red. Even after the leaves have fallen, the branching structure of Vine Maple provides some nice visual interest in the winter garden. If you’re thinking of incorporating more native trees into your landscape, Vine Maples are a delightful place to start!