Acer circinatum, commonly known as the vine maple, is a species of small deciduous tree or shrub native to the Pacific Northwest region of North America. It belongs to the family Sapindaceae and is closely related to other maple species such as the bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) and the sugar maple (Acer saccharum).
The vine maple is typically found in moist woodlands, stream banks, and rocky slopes, and can grow up to 20 feet tall. It has a multi-stemmed growth habit and produces dense foliage that turns bright red, orange, and yellow in the fall. Its leaves are palmate, with 7-9 lobes and serrated edges.
One distinctive feature of the vine maple is its bark, which is smooth and greenish-brown when young, and becomes thin, papery, and exfoliating as the tree ages, revealing a smooth, reddish-brown underbark.
In the garden, the vine maple is often grown as an ornamental tree for its attractive foliage and branching structure. It is also popular for bonsai due to its small size and adaptability to pruning.
Vine maple has a rich cultural history among the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, who used its wood for various purposes, including carving and making baskets. It is also an important food source for wildlife, including birds and mammals.