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

Acer macrophyllum Pursh
bigleaf maple (Oregon maple)
Sapindaceae (Horse-chestnut family)
(Previously in Aceraceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Tom Duralia  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #7565)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Acer macrophyllum
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Big-leaf maple is a large forest tree that reaches heights of 90 ft. or more. It abundantly self-seeds throughout our region.

Species Information

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Large, deciduous, spreading tree up to 30 m tall; branches greenish barked, smooth; older bark greyish-brown, ridged and often covered with lichens and mosses.
Opposite, 10-30 cm wide, deeply 5-lobed, tips abruptly sharp-pointed, dark green above and paler green below, turning yellow in fall, stalks with milky juice when cut.
Inflorescence racemose with male and female flowers on the same plant; numerous on short stalks, appearing with or before the leaves; petals greenish-white,
Winged, in pairs, 3-6 cm long, yellowish-brown, hairy, pairs attached in a V-shape.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

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

Habitat / Range

Moist to mesic forests and open slopes in the lowland and montane zones; common in SW BC west of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; S to CA, disjunct in ID.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Acer macrophyllum

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) 0 156 880
Slope Gradient (%) 0 17 194
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
10 138 360
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(180), CWH(403), IDF(26)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-intolerant, submontane to montane, Western North American deciduous broadĀ­leaved tree distributed more in the Pacific than the Cordilleran region. Occurs in maritime to submaritime cool mesothermal climates on fresh to very moist, nitrogen-rich soils (Moder and Mull humus forms). Its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation, latitude, and continentality. Common in pure or mixed-species stands (usually with red alder or black cottonwood) on alluvial, seepage, and stream-edge sites; occasional on water-shedding sites; dominant in primary succession on fragmental colluvial soils. This fast -growing tree regenerates abundantly from stump sprouts in clearings, thus hindering regeneration and growth of conifers. Its calcium-rich bark supports well developed corticolous moss communities. Characteristic of young-seral forests.

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

Additional Photo Sources

General References