Acer circinatum

Common Name:
Vine maple
Plant Type:
Deciduous tree
Aceraceae (The Maple Family)
Geographic Origin:
California Native?:
Plant Size:
12-20 feet high
Landscape/Garden Uses:
shade gardens
Flowering Season:
Flower Color:
Light shade
Light acid soil
Suggested Irrigation:
Moderate watering
Estimated Hardiness:
Hardy to 0 degrees F. or less
This is a common streamside shrub or small tree in far northern California and dots the understory of many forests in the wetter Northwest. It has sinuous branches from 6 feet to over 30 feet long, creating an odd, sprawling form in shade and one more reminiscent of the familiar Japanese maple (A. palmatum) in sun--which it tolerates poorly away from the coast. The bark is smooth, light to bright green when young and taking on yellow and rosy hues as it ages. The leaves are nearly round overall, with several relatively shallow, pointed lobes, and measure 2-6 inches long. They often show pink or orange shading in new growth, becoming bright apple-green as they expand. In fall they adopt some of the most vivid hues to be found among deciduous shrubs and trees. The tiny flowers are purplish or reddish in color. This is a beautiful shrub-tree for smaller gardens, capable of developing an elegant, flowing form with a little judicious early pruning. It thrives in sun or shade near the coast but needs protection inland. Soil must be acid and well drained, and it should be kept moist at all times.