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Acer circinatum (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)
Acer circinatum (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)

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Zones A3, 2B, 3-6, 14-17, 36, 37
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular Water

Acer circinatum

Vine Maple
Deciduous, Trees


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 circinatum


In the forest shade, plant is crooked, sprawling, and vinelike, with many stems from the base. In the open, it becomes a nearly symmetrical small tree 5–35 ft. high, with one or several trunks. Leaves nearly circular, to 6 in. across, with 5–11 lobes; red tinted when new, light green as they mature, then orange, scarlet, or yellow in fall. Tiny reddish purple spring flowers are followed by winged red seeds.

Let it go untrimmed to make natural bowers, ideal setting for ferns and woodland flowers. Use under a canopy of tall conifers where its blazing fall color offers brilliant contrast. Can be espaliered against shady side of a wall. Its contorted leafless branches to make an intricate pattern in winter.


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