Acer macrophyllum

Common Name:
Bigleaf maple
Plant Type:
Deciduous tree
Aceraceae (The Maple Family)
Geographic Origin:
California Native?:
Plant Size:
30-90 feet high
Landscape/Garden Uses:
Foundation plantings
Flowering Season:
Flower Color:
Sun or light shade
Most soils
Suggested Irrigation:
Moderate watering
Estimated Hardiness:
Hardy to 0 degrees F. or less
This is one of the most impressive of our streamside trees, sometimes towering above all others. It has sturdy, arching trunks and often a parasol-like canopy of upper branches. The bark is smooth except when quite old and greyish brown in color. First to appear in spring are the large, drooping clusters of chartreuse flowers. These are closely followed by shiny, often bronze-tinted leaves which turn to deep green, with paler undersides, as they expand. And expand they do, sometimes to as much as 10 inches yet. They are usually rather deeply 5-lobed, with sharp points on the lobes. In fall, they adopt lovely gold to pale yellow shades, and the large samaras dry to pale tan, sometimes with a rosy blush. The problem with this beautiful tree is its sheer size. It needs at least the space of a large back yard to spread. Otherwise it is quite adaptable, taking all exposures and most soils, though it needs regular watering, except where the local water table is high.