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Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ (photo courtesy of Monrovia)
Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ (photo courtesy of Monrovia)

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Zone
Zones 2-9, 14-24
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular Water
Moderate

Acer macrophyllum

Bigleaf Maple
Sapindaceae
Deciduous, Trees

ACER

Maples are a varied group. They may be large and midsize shade trees; smaller trees; and dainty, picturesque shrub-trees. Leaves range from simple ovals to deeply lobed and finely dissected shapes. One element common to all maples is the fruit (seed capsule), which resembles a hardware store wingnut.

Many maples have beautiful fall color. Look for one that colors well in your locale; visit nurseries while the foliage is changing hue.

The larger maples have extensive fibrous root systems that take water and nutrients from the topsoil. The great canopy of leaves calls for a steady, constant supply of water, not necessarily frequent watering but constantly available water throughout the root zone. Occasional deep watering and periodic feeding will help keep roots deep.

Medium to large maple species need little pruning. On smaller types, prune to accentuate the natural shape. To minimize sap bleed, make any cuts in summer or early fall in mild-winter areas, from summer to the end of January where temperatures remain below freezing.

Acer macrophyllum

Native to stream banks and moist canyons, southern Alaska to Southern California. Dense shade tree grows 30–75 ft. tall, 30–50 ft. wide—too big for a small garden or a street tree. Large three- to five-lobed leaves are 6–15 in. wide, sometimes bigger on young sapling growth; leaves turn from medium green to yellow in fall. Impressive tassels of greenish yellow spring flowers are followed by tawny winged seeds hanging in long, chainlike clusters. Yellow fall color spectacular in cool areas. Resistant to oak root fungus.

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