E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Acer circinatum Pursh
vine maple
Sapindaceae (Horse-chestnut family)
(Previously in Aceraceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Val George  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #79737)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Acer circinatum
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Species Information

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Deciduous small tree or shrub, 1-8 m tall, often propagating by layering, sometimes forming dense thickets; stems branching, pale green to reddish, becoming brown with age.
Opposite, 3-12 cm wide, 7- to 9-lobed, hairy on the lower surface and on the upper surface along the veins, becoming golden to bright red (in full sun) in the autumn.
Inflorescence of flat-topped, indeterminate clusters at the end of shoots; petals white, 6-9 mm wide; sepals usually red.
Winged, in pairs, 2-4 cm long, widely spreading, green becoming reddish-brown, pairs attached at a 180degree angle, or nearly so.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Wet to mesic closed and open forests and streamsides in the lowland and montane zones; common in SW BC, rare on S Vancouver Island; S to N CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Acer circinatum

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 6 385 1260
Slope Gradient (%) 0 24 120
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
10 211 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 4 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: CDF(1), CWH(335), ESSF(3), ICH(1), IDF(71), MS(1)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant to shade-intolerant, submontane to montane, Pacific North American deciduous shrub (rare on Vancouver Island). Occurs in maritime to submaritime cool mesothermal climates on fresh to very moist, nitrogen-rich soils; its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation and continentality. Plentiful and persistent in open-canopy forests and clearings on water-receiving (alluvial. seepage, and stream-edge) sites; dominant in primary successional stages on water-shedding sites with fragmental colluvial soils. Regenerates vigorously from stump sprouts; it hinders natural regeneration and growth of shade-intolerant conifers. Frequently grows with Polystichum munitum. Characteristic of Moder and Mull humus forms.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is cool mesothermal.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References