Big Leaf Maples

Many people that live in the Pacific Northwest are very familiar with our native Big Leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum).  This tree has the largest leaves of any maple, in fact its name translates into “large leaf” (macro=large, phylum=leaf).  You cannot mistake the tree’s distinctive five-fingered leaves that broaden to over a foot in both length and width.  As the second most abundant tree in the Pacific Northwest, the species proves its versatility and hardiness but requires a large space. The Smith Mossman garden features several cultivars that take the good characteristics of the tree and fit it into a smaller package. Acer macrophyllum ‘Seattle Sentinel’ grows to just 40 feet with a columnar habit, as opposed to 160 feet tall with a 50-foot spread.  For an even more compact version of the big leaf maple, check out Acer macrophyllum ‘Mocha Rose’, a stout, spreading maple that only gets to 8-15 feet tall and only 4 feet wide in 10 years. This stout, spreading tree has glossy, deep salmon-pink leaves in spring that turn to a rich mocha hue in summer. And if you want the look of a big leaf but in a yellow tone, look for Acer macrophyllum ‘Aureum’ which sports yellowish leaves.