Uncover the Beauty of Acer Circinatum: The Versatile Vine Maple

Acer circinatum, colloquially referred to as Vine Maple or Oregon Vine Maple, is a versatile and resilient plant native to the western regions of North America, with a particular prevalence in the Pacific Northwest. Distinguished by its distinctive reddish-green bark, the Vine Maple thrives both as a spreading bushy shrub and, in certain conditions, as a small to medium-sized multi-trunked tree. The almost circular, 7-9 lobed deciduous leaves of the plant emerge bright green in the spring, transforming into vibrant hues of orange and red in the fall. Spring also brings tiny purple and white flowers, giving way to red-winged fruits which provide nourishment to a variety of wildlife species.

The Vine Maple thrives in cooler climates, preferring shaded and moist locations, although it adapts well to both sun and shade. The tree reaches a height of 10-20 feet, with a similar spread, depending on the light conditions. In forest shade, it exhibits a vine-like, sprawling growth pattern, whereas in sunny environments, it becomes bushier and denser. The plant produces clusters of 3-6 flowers with deep red sepals and greenish-white petals, which mature into fruits featuring horizontally spread wings turning deep red upon maturity. This tree is highly valued in landscaping due to its graceful appearance and adaptability to both sunny and shaded locations. Cultivars of this species offer variations in leaf size, color, and growth habits. It is also known for its historical use by Native Americans who crafted baskets and fish traps from its branches, and used it as a firewood source. 

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