The Acer circinatum or “Maple vine”, is a brittle but sturdy tree which embezzles the landscapes of northern California in beautiful colors every fall. It grows to between 16-26 feet at an incredible speed and thrives underneath larger evergreen tree types. The tree branch out into several trunks, which grows until they bend under their own weight, then start to arch through the landscape and rise again to find the sun.


The leaves sit opposite on the stem and are shape much like a maple leaf (hence the name) but have between 7 and 11 “teeth”, instead of the maples 5. The leaves can get 14 centimeters long and broad and are completely covered in tiny hair on the underside, it is these leaves that turn beautiful shades of yellow and red in the fall.

Acer circinatumThe circinatum carry very small yellow flowers, which measures 6-9 millimeter in diameter and have a very distinct dark red calyx. The flowers sit in an open corymb which consists of everything between 4 to 20 flowers and upon pollination a two seeded fruit with small wings are produced.

It has a special ability that few other trees possess, when a trunk bends down and makes contact with the ground, it can set up an entire new root system and sprout up from there. This can sometimes create natural arches or thick impassable terrain.


The maple vine lives prolific in many areas around the northern parts of California. You can find them on the bottom of canyons, the steep rocky slopes, cultivated terraces, areas that have been burned; this survivor can handle the most. In fact this species is so far and wide it have been spotted as north as Alaska and as east as the pacific coast line.

Native Gardening

Where ever Maple vine is found it is of great importance for the local animal life. It provides food in the shape of buds, flowers and seeds to a large variety of birds and small mammals. Larger mammals such as Elks and deer will be out foraging for its bark and leaves in the late fall and winter period. The flowers also feed an array of pollinators such as bees, moths and butterflies. The small branches of the vine are also greatly used by some birds as the main component of their nests.