In general Maples are quite lovely as trees go. The Vine Maples is exceptionally pretty. It grows in North America from the British Columbia area to Northern California. It can be a large shrub that grows as a part of the undergrowth for larger trees or it can be a larger tree that grows up to 20 feet tall when grown out in the open. It does much better as a shrub because it is not drought resistant and can easily burn up by the sun when out in the open. It is a good tree for preventing soil erosion.
The leaves of the Vine Maple are what is called opposite, having 7-11 lobes that are circular. They are 3-14 cm long and have broad sparse hairs on the underside. The lobes are pointed with toothed margins.They range from orange/red to bright yellow in the fail and are quite striking. The flowers are mall being from 6-9 mm long. They have dark red calyx (outside of flower parts) that have five short yellowish/green petals. The petals are produced in open corymbs which are flat topped flower clusters. In the spring the fruits is a two seeded samara which is a type of flat winged fruit of paper like tissue.
The Vine Maple has a very unique feature that is rarely seen. It bends well and can bend so far that it will arch and grow back into the ground starting new growth and a new tree. This forms a natural arch that is quite rare and beautiful. The most striking examples of the Vine Maple are the multi trunked trees.
The Vine Maples provides food for many species. Chipmunk, squirrels, and birds eat the flowers and fruits of this tree. The leaves and twigs are often eaten by cows, sheep, white tailed deer and wild elk.
Because of its beauty this small tree has been cultivated in many areas outside of its natural environment. It is often used in ornamental tree gardens. It does require special care however. It can not survive in temperatures below -13 degrees and needs plenty of water to do well. It makes a great border tree if taken care of. It has been grown as far north as Alaska. The Vine Maple can not tolerate too much direct sunlight so all of these things must be kept in mind when attempting to grow this tree.