Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Acer macrophyllum (Big Leaf Maple) Forest

Acer macrophyllum or big leaf maple sometimes forms the predominant stand in the forest. These stands can be long lasting in part because the maple trees do not die when cut. Maples will send up an inverted chandelier of stems from the trunk and rapidly form a dense seasonal canopy that appears to effectively block out other competing trees. I am aware of a few stands that are 100 years old. This particular stand shown below grew up out of a clear cut harvest of a mixed stand of mature Douglas fir, western red cedar, grand fir and western hemlock on a moderately steep slope. The maples have since been cut but have grown right back up again.  

The geology of the site is an advance glacial outwash sand, a compact sand slope on a very old deep-seated landslide head scarp with an east facing slope aspect.   


Hollis said...

Really interesting to see big leaf maple in that situation. Where I grew up--Central Calif Coast--it is a riparian species in the mountains (coast range). It sometimes forms beautiful canopies over streams.

Dan McShane said...

The riparian environment in the coast CA may be the very edge habitat for big leaf maple to the south. The tree may be able to thrive away from streams further north as long as it can overcome the competition. A theory may be that clear cut areas that were not replanted provided these trees a slight edge in areas where moisture was just right.