Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Mountain Maple - Acer spicatum   Lamarck
Members of Sapindaceae:
Members of Acer with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Sapindales » Family Sapindaceae
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DistributionThroughout the Mountains, probably present in all counties. Apparently does not occur in the Piedmont, as this is a high elevation species.

This is a Northern species, ranging from Canada south to PA and IA, and then southward essentially only in the mountains to northern GA.
AbundanceFairly common to frequent above about 4500 feet, but scarce down to perhaps 4000 feet. Probably least numerous in the far southwestern counties. Less numerous than Sugar Maple (A. saccharum) and Striped Maple (A. pensylvanicum) in the state. The NC NHP gives it an S3 state rank, as opposed to S5 and S4, respectively, for the others.
HabitatThis species is limited to cool, often rocky forests, mainly in spruce-fir, spruce-hardwood, and Northern Hardwood Forest types. Most montane maple species inhabit richer sites at lower elevations.
PhenologyFlowers from May to July, and fruits from August to October.
IdentificationThis maple is less well known than most others, as it is more restricted in habitat and elevation. It is a small deciduous tree, usually only 15-20 feet tall. The opposite leaves look quite similar to those of the abundant Red Maple (A. rubrum), which normally does not grow with it, but could in some places. Striped Maple has opposite leaves that have three triangular lobes, with much serration along the edges, as does Red Maple; however, Striped Maple has leaves more “wrinkled”, with stronger sunken veins. If visible, the inflorescence is quite striking for a maple, being a terminal “raceme” several inches long that frequently stands erect (vertically). Of course, this species is barely a small tree, and it may contain a few trunks instead of a single one. In general, an experienced field biologist should have little trouble identifying this species, but novices could overlook it as a Red Maple.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Low Maple, Moose Maple, Moosewood
State RankS3
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpUPL link
USACE-empFACU link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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B.A. SorrieGrandfather Mountain, trail to McRae Peak, 17 June 2023. Flowers. AveryPhoto_natural
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