Acer circinatum

One of the most beautiful sights in our woods and forests has got to be the native Vine Maple, Acer circinatum.

Typically a multi-stemmed large shrub with telltale maple leaves and elegant tiered branching, it is often found along waterways, gracefully reaching its branches out over the water, or in the fall providing a soft yellow glow in the dappled light beneath towering conifers.

Flowers of wine-red and white form along the branches in the spring, contrasting with the red sheaths covering the yet-to-emerge leaves, giving a colorful show in the garden, especially along with the reddish new woody growth; soft green leaves follow. In the fall, A. circinatum can take on a variety of vibrant color, from soft yellow in shady spots to eye-popping orange/red when sited in more sun.

Several variations of Acer circinatum have been discovered growing in Pacific Northwest forests and gardens and have been cultivated for their unique characteristics.

Acer circinatum 'Monroe'

Acer circinatum 'Monroe'

First discovered in Portland and named after its founder, ‘Monroe’ has the finely cut leaves of a delicate Japanese maple. Slightly shorter than the species, it matures at 12-15’. (Photo credit: Pat Breen, Oregon State University).

Acer circinatum 'Pacific Fire'

Acer circinatum 'Pacific Fire'

This Vine Maple takes the early reddish growth to whole a new level! Stems are a bright coral red throughout, contrasting with the yellow of the autumn foliage and making a fiery statement in winter. Photo credit to Stanley & Sons Nursery.

Acer circinatum 'Pacific Fire'

Acer circinatum 'Pacific Fire'