SPECIES: Acer glabrum


INTRODUCTORY

SPECIES: Acer glabrum
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:
Anderson, Michelle D. 2001. Acer glabrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [].

ABBREVIATION:
ACEGLA

SYNONYMS:
Acer glabrum ssp. douglasii (Hook.) Wesmael [141]
    = Acer glabrum var. douglasii (Hook.) Dippel [155]

NRCS PLANT CODE [321]:
ACGL
ACGLD3
ACGLD4
ACGLG2
ACGLG
ACGLN2
ACGLT2

COMMON NAMES:
Rocky Mountain maple
mountain maple
Douglas maple

TAXONOMY:
The currently accepted scientific name of Rocky Mountain maple is Acer glabrum Torr. (Aceraceae) [74,87,137,141,155,156,172,327,328]. Recognized infrataxa are as follows:

Acer glabrum var. diffusum (Greene) Smiley [136,155,328]
Acer glabrum var. douglasii (Hook.) Dippel [137,155]
Acer glabrum var. glabrum Torr. [137,155,203,328]
Acer glabrum var. greenei Keller [136,155]
Acer glabrum var. neomexicanum (Greene) Kearney & Peebles [155,203,328]
Acer glabrum var. torreyi (Greene) Smiley [136,155]

LIFE FORM:
Tree-shrub

FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
No special status

OTHER STATUS:
No entry


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Acer glabrum
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION:
The distribution of Rocky Mountain maple extends from Alaska south to California, Arizona, and New Mexico [1,42,46,62,103,141,156,203,243,263,328] and east to Alberta, the Black Hills of South Dakota, and Nebraska [66,74,172,243,328]. Rocky Mountain maple has also been reported in Mexico [255]. The U.S. Geological Survey provides a distributional map of Rocky Mountain maple.

ECOSYSTEMS [106]:
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES22 Western white pine
FRES23 Fir-spruce
FRES24 Hemlock-Sitka spruce
FRES25 Larch
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES27 Redwood
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows

STATES:
AK AZ CA CO ID
MT NE NV NM OR
SD UT WA WY
AB BC
MEXICO

BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS [39]:
1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

KUCHLER [170] PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:
K001 Spruce-cedar-hemlock forest
K002 Cedar-hemlock-Douglas-fir forest
K003 Silver fir-Douglas-fir forest
K004 Fir-hemlock forest
K005 Mixed conifer forest
K006 Redwood forest
K007 Red fir forest
K008 Lodgepole pine-subalpine forest
K010 Ponderosa shrub forest
K011 Western ponderosa forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K013 Cedar-hemlock-pine forest
K014 Grand fir-Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce-fir forest
K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K017 Black Hills pine forest
K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest
K019 Arizona pine forest
K020 Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest
K021 Southwestern spruce-fir forest
K022 Great Basin pine forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K025 Alder-ash forest
K026 Oregon oakwoods
K028 Mosaic of K002 and K026
K029 California mixed evergreen forest
K030 California oakwoods
K032 Transition between K031 and K037
K034 Montane chaparral
K036 Mosaic of K030 and K035
K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub
K055 Sagebrush steppe

SAF COVER TYPES [94]:
201 White spruce
202 White spruce-paper birch
203 Balsam poplar
204 Black spruce
205 Mountain hemlock
206 Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir
207 Red fir
208 Whitebark pine
209 Bristlecone pine
210 Interior Douglas-fir
211 White fir
212 Western larch
213 Grand fir
215 Western white pine
216 Blue spruce
217 Aspen
218 Lodgepole pine
219 Limber pine
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
221 Red alder
222 Black cottonwood-willow
223 Sitka spruce
224 Western hemlock
225 Western hemlock-Sitka spruce
226 Coastal true fir-hemlock
227 Western redcedar-western hemlock
228 Western redcedar
229 Pacific Douglas-fir
230 Douglas-fir-western hemlock
231 Port-Orford-cedar
232 Redwood
233 Oregon white oak
234 Douglas-fir-tanoak-Pacific madrone
235 Cottonwood-willow
237 Interior ponderosa pine
238 Western juniper
239 Pinyon-juniper
243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
244 Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir
245 Pacific ponderosa pine
246 California black oak
247 Jeffrey pine
248 Knobcone pine
249 Canyon live oak
250 Blue oak-foothills pine
251 White spruce-aspen
252 Paper birch
253 Black spruce-white spruce
254 Black spruce-paper birch
255 California coast live oak
256 California mixed subalpine

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES [283]:
107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass
109 Ponderosa pine shrubland
110 Ponderosa pine-grassland
201 Blue oak woodland
202 Coast live oak woodland
203 Riparian woodland
204 North coastal shrub
205 Coastal sage shrub
209 Montane shrubland
216 Montane meadows
322 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass
402 Mountain big sagebrush
411 Aspen woodland
412 Juniper-pinyon woodland
413 Gambel oak
415 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany
416 True mountain-mahogany
418 Bigtooth maple
419 Bittercherry
420 Snowbrush
421 Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose
422 Riparian
504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland
509 Transition between oak-juniper woodland and mahogany-oak association
901 Alder
904 Black spruce-lichen
905 Bluejoint reedgrass
906 Broadleaf forest
907 Dryas
913 Low scrub swamp
917 Tall shrub swamp
920 White spruce-paper birch
921 Willow

HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:
Rocky Mountain maple commonly occurs as an understory species in a variety of coniferous forest types, as well as in upland deciduous and riparian forests throughout its range. Rocky Mountain maple also occurs in a variety of mixed shrub vegetation [241,319].

Common Plant Associates:
Rocky Mountain maple is found with a variety of tree species throughout its range, including white fir (Abies concolor) [27,28,32,73,81,82,104,177,192,227,228,236,261,278,330,336], subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) [43,73,91,177,228,236,261,282,288,307,330,336], alder (Alnus spp.) [32,75,95,166,191,298,330], birch (Betula spp.) [239,265], common juniper (Juniperus communis) [8,73,95,205], Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) [271], western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) [223], Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) [81,91,177,236,261,278,282,288,307,330], lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) [16,34,37,71,91,169,200,282], limber pine (Pinus flexilis) [71,209], ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) [16,71,113,143,153,187,200,231,330], cottonwood (Populus spp.) [32,166,191], quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) [31,32,35,71,166,168,259,261,307,325,336], Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) [71,91,121,177,194,227,228,252,261,278,282,288,319,325,329,330], oak (Quercus spp.) [40,261,336], and willow (Salix spp.) [15,32,81,95,166,177,194,210,236,298,307,319].

Several shrub species are commonly found with Rocky Mountain maple throughout its range, including bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum) [40,205,228,330], Saskatoon serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) [16,35,49,71,81,82,91,95,166,177,194,210,228,233,284,319,325,336], bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) [70,82], red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) [48,90,210,298], oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor) [49,236,261,278,319], Utah honeysuckle (Lonicera utahensis) [91,236,257,336], Oregon-grape (Mahonia repens) [8,70,71,81,82,177,319], Oregon boxwood (Paxistima myrsinites) [71,81,82,177,264,284,333], ninebark (Physocarpus malvaceus) [49,71,233,236,319,336], chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) [16,35,71,166,269,319,325,336], Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii) [3,40,95,168,307], currant/gooseberry (Ribes spp.) [8,29,194,278,284], rose (Rosa spp.) [70,71,107,166,257,284], thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) [82,91,135,236,264,284], red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) [16,166,210,233,236], russet buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis) [91,134,209,336], common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) [49,92,134,233,257,269,319], and mountain snowberry (Symphoricarpos oreophilus) [8,70,81,82,177,236,271].

Associated species (northern):
Rocky Mountain maple occurs commonly with several species in the northern portion of its distribution (Alaska south to northern California, Nevada, and Utah). Associated tree species include Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis) [27,34,101,161], grand fir (Abies grandis) [96,121,143,148,149,252,260,264,306,333], California red fir (Abies magnifica) [14,26,27,244], vine maple (Acer circinatum) [164,210], bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) [69], Sitka alder (Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata) [70,210,257], Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesia) [69,210], paper birch (Betula papyrifera) [91,200], Port-Orford cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) [297,313], California hazel (Corylus cornuta var. californica) [210], Douglas hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) [16,210], western larch (Larix occidentalis) [91,111,143,148,200,249,276,282,329], white spruce (Picea glauca) [90,200], Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) [34], western white pine (Pinus monticola) [91,140,143,148,264], Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) [297,313], Sadler oak (Quercus sadleriana) [28], Pacific willow (Salix lasiandra) [210], Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia) [2,151,226,284], western redcedar (Thuja plicata) [10,27,34,119,121,143,160,187,200,288], western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) [10,27,34,91,101,119,124,148,161,264,333], and mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) [27,161].

Common shrub associates in the northern part of Rocky Mountain maple's range include Pacific serviceberry (Amelanchier florida) [223], sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) [223,269,328], redstem ceanothus (Ceanothus sanguineus) [105,135,319], snowbrush ceanothus (Ceanothus velutinus) [23,105,138,196,223,269], birchleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides) [297,313], curlleaf mountain-mahogany (C. ledifolius) [35,200,223], rock clematis (Clematis columbiana) [70,319], Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) [210], salal (Gaultheria shallon) [69], orange honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa) [319], menziesia (Menziesia ferruginea) [8,226,257], Pacific bayberry (Myrica californica) [210], devil's club (Oplopanax horridus) [8,284], Lewis' mockorange (Philadelphus lewisii) [64,319], bittercherry (Prunus emarginata) [16,134,135,210,223,319], bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) [223,269], cascara (Rhamnus purshiana) [233,319], bristly black currant (Ribes lacustre) [284], baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa) [91,284,319], red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) [64,90,251], blue elderberry (Sambucus cerulea) [16,210,233,319], Greene mountain-ash (Sorbus scopulina) [16,75,90,205,233,284], Sitka mountain-ash (S. sitchensis) [70,90,194], white spirea (Spiraea betulifolia) [8,59,64,91,257], tree spirea (Spiraea discolor) [69], California laurel (Umbellularia californica) [297,313], and big huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum) [91,151,257,264,284].

Other common plant associates include queencup beadlily (Clintonia uniflora) [8,9], fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) [8,9,100], oak fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris) [2], sword fern (Polystichum munitum) [2], twinflower (Linnaea borealis) [8,70,151,284], Cascades azalea (Rhododendron albiflorum) [8], smooth woodrush (Luzula hitchcockii) [8], pinegrass (Calamagrostis rubescens) [23,100], and elk sedge (Carex geyeri) [100].

Associated species (southern):
Rocky Mountain maple occurs commonly with several species in the southern portion of its distribution. Common tree species include boxelder (Acer negundo) [97,191,325], New Mexico locust (Robinia neomexicana) [81,168,177,261], blue spruce (Picea pungens) [32,95,177,227,261], Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata) [227], and southwestern white pine (Pinus strobiformis) [153,227,278].

Common shrub associates occurring with Rocky Mountain maple in the southern part of its range include silvertip sedge (Carex foena) [236], true mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus) [242], cliffbush (Jamesia americana) [81,82,177,236], bush oceanspray (Holodiscus dumosa) [63,81,177,242], Arizona honeysuckle (Lonicera arizonica) [81,177], Texas mulberry (Morus microphylla) [191], mountain ninebark (Physocarpus monogynus) [81,82,177], black cherry (Prunus serotina) [97,191], smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) [242], and blueberry elder (Sambucus glauca) [48].

Plant Communities:
Classifications describing plant communities in which Rocky Mountain maple is a dominant species are as follows:

Arizona [7,81,99,228,236,309]
California [28]
Colorado [6,32,71,82,165,259]
Idaho [70,290,291,292,294,295,296]
New Mexico [3,4,7,81,82,99,177,228,309]
Oregon [28,64,152]
Utah [205,336]
Washington [332]
Wyoming [5,71,290]

Rocky Mountain maple occurs as a dominant in the Rocky Mountain maple community type in Oregon [64], the grand fir/Rocky Mountain maple-ninebark community type in Oregon, the Douglas-fir/Rocky Mountain maple-ninebark community type in Oregon [152], and the quaking aspen/Rocky Mountain maple community type in Colorado [259]. It also occurs as a dominant in the white fir/Rocky Mountain maple plant association in Oregon and California [28], the grand fir/Rocky Mountain maple plant association in Oregon [152], the grand fir/Rocky Mountain maple/queencup beadlily association in Washington [332], and the white fir-blue spruce-narrowleaf cottonwood (Populus angustifolia)/Rocky Mountain maple plant association in Colorado [32]. Rocky Mountain maple is a dominant in the following habitat types: grand fir/Rocky Mountain maple in the northern Rockies [18,70,292,294,296]; Douglas-fir/Rocky Mountain maple in the Rocky Mountains, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming [5,44,70,71,205,290,291,295,296]; subalpine fir/Rocky Mountain maple in Idaho, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming [3,5,7,43,44,70,205,290,296,336]; white fir/Rocky Mountain maple in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah [3,4,6,7,44,81,82,99,177,236,309,336]; white fir-Douglas-fir/Rocky Mountain maple in Arizona and New Mexico [228]; Engelmann spruce/Rocky Mountain maple in Arizona and New Mexico [4,81,236,309]; and Rocky Mountain maple/red-osier dogwood in Colorado [165].

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Acer glabrum
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE:
Rocky Mountain maple is generally an important browse species for domestic livestock [150] and wildlife throughout its range [22,33,56,57,123,139,145,206,212,269,335]. In British Columbia, importance is low for caribou, moderate to high for elk and mule deer; high for mountain goats; and moderate for white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep [41], and moose [41,68]. Rocky Mountain maple is valuable for mule deer [163,223], moose [110,172], and elk [172,185,223] in the northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest, and it is preferred browse for big game animals in Wyoming [38]. Rocky Mountain maple is a potentially valuable forage species for deer and elk in Arizona [314]. Big game animals generally consume the buds and current annual twig growth [179]. However, Rocky Mountain maple often grows quickly out of reach [56,212].

Rocky Mountain maple is a principal forage species of shrubfields in the northern Rockies, which provide important winter range for deer and elk [21,70,102,179,180,196,288,326,334].

Though it is also browsed in the summer [157,286], Rocky Mountain may be heavily used in late fall and winter by mule deer and white-tailed deer [84,123,157,171,207,237,238]. It is also important winter browse for bighorn sheep [123,317], and elk [105,123,204,320,334]. Rocky Mountain maple is particularly important winter and spring moose browse [123,254,257,298].

Ruffed grouse in Idaho and blue grouse in Nevada eat the leaves and buds of Rocky Mountain maple [202]. Rocky Mountain maple seeds are also important forage for grosbeaks [172] and small mammals [172,287].

PALATABILITY:
Rocky Mountain maple has poor to fair palatability for domestic livestock [85,247,325] and is palatable for big game animals [247]. It is moderately to highly palatable for deer, elk, and moose in the northern Rockies and British Columbia [25,69,105,131,145,179,273,325,335].

The palatability of Rocky Mountain maple for domestic livestock has been rated as follows [85]:

  UT CO WY MT
Cattle poor poor poor poor
Domestic sheep fair poor fair fair
Horses poor poor poor poor

NUTRITIONAL VALUE:
The nutrient content (%) of Rocky Mountain maple current annual growth from two sites in Idaho was as follows [25]:

  Moisture Crude protein Fat Crude fiber Ash N-free extract Calcium Phosphorus Ca:P ratio
Site 1 55.2 8.19 3.26 34.14 3.02 51.39 0.86 0.16 5.3:1
Site 2 58.49 9.29 2.97 33.86 3.29 50.59 0.93 0.18 5.0:1

Rocky Mountain maple has low winter nutritional value for moose in British Columbia. Samples collected had the following nutrient content (in % by dry weight): 5.9% protein, 2.4% ether extract, 33.3% crude fiber, and 54.2% nitrogen-free extract [68].

Rocky Mountain maple has fair energy value and poor protein value for domestic cattle, sheep and horses [85].

COVER VALUE:
In early to mid stages of growth, Rocky Mountain maple provides hiding cover for big game animals as well as small mammals and birds [81,142,195,325]. It also provides nesting sites for sharp-shinned hawks in Utah [258].

Cover value of Rocky Mountain maple has been rated as follows [85]:

  UT CO WY MT
Elk fair -- poor fair
Mule deer good fair fair --
White-tailed deer -- -- poor fair
Antelope poor -- poor --
Upland game birds fair -- poor fair
Waterfowl poor -- poor --
Non-game birds good good fair fair
Small mammals good good fair fair

VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
Rocky Mountain maple is used for revegetating cutslopes and roadsides following highway construction [77], and is recommended for riparian revegetation projects in the western United States [54]. 

Rocky Mountain maple seed is commercially available [76] and should be stored dry at 35 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7-5 oC) [322]. Though storage for less than 2 years is recommended [129,322], Rocky Mountain maple seeds may be viable up to 3 years [123,279]. Germination requirements include 180 days of warm stratification [322,325] at 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (20-30 oC) [243] and 180 days of cold stratification [129,243,279,322,325] at 37 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8-5 oC) [243]. In a laboratory test, 40% of seeds kept at 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10-15.6 oC) both night and day germinated within 30 days [243]. Shade is recommended for seedling establishment [322]. Rocky Mountain maple can also be transplanted; though better results are achieved with older plants than with seedlings [325], bareroot seedlings are often used for restoration and rehabilitation projects [129].

OTHER USES AND VALUES:
Because it is heat and drought tolerant, Rocky Mountain maple is valuable as an ornamental shrub in western landscaping [118,159]. It may also be useful for watershed protection [325].

OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Browsing by big game may locally prevent full development of Rocky Mountain maple [23]; however, it may stimulate vigorous resprouting [123]. Shrub cover increases substantially in the absence of wildlife browsing [146].

Rocky Mountain maple percent cover has been found to increase in response to thinning of forest stands [147]. The abundance of Rocky Mountain maple either remains static or increases slightly following logging operations or overstory removal [62]. In Idaho, Rocky Mountain maple demonstrated increased density following a clearcut with no site preparation, a shelterwood cut with mechanical scarification, and a clearcut with mechanical scarification [295]. However, severe mechanical disturbance to the root crown will decrease the abundance of Rocky Mountain maple [86]. Rapid resprouting is likely to follow cutting of Rocky Mountain maple, producing an increase in the total number of stems present. The crown normally becomes more dense and rounded form following canopy removal [62]. Three seasons following mechanical cutting of 19 feet (5.8 m) tall Rocky Mountain maple, clump height ranged from 4 to 6 feet (1.2-1.8 m), crown diameter from 8 to 12 feet (2.4-3.7 m), and stem diameter from 1 to 8 inches (2.5-20.3 cm). Plants produced up to 10 sprouts each, and the treatment released 4-foot (1.2 m) conifer seedlings from shading [216]. 

Herbicide applications of glyphosate, triclopyr, hexazinone, and 2,4-D ester, result in low to severe damage to Rocky Mountain maple [33,62,65,213,214,214,217,218,220,235,250]; however, Rocky Mountain maple is likely to sprout following damage [62,197,235]. Picloram treatments may achieve up to 80% control of Rocky Mountain maple [272]. 

Treatments that cause top-kill will likely result in sprouting [62,197,235], though height reduction to improve browse availability may not be substantial or for any extended duration [197]. 

On sites treated with combination herbicide and mechanical treatments, percent cover, presence, and height of Rocky Mountain maple were substantially lower on scarified than unscarified sites [46]:

  % cover presence height
Scarified 1% 25% 0.30 m
Unscarified 3% 75% 0.75 m


BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Acer glabrum
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Rocky Mountain maple is a native, deciduous tall shrub or small tree [56,66,74,123,141,159,169,172,203,256,310,325,328,333]. It often grows 20 to 30 feet ( 6.1-9.1 m) tall, with crown widths from 10 to 20 feet (3-6 m) wide and a stem diameter up to 12 inches (30.5 cm) [74,123,150,156,172,175,203,234,243,310,325,328], though it can reach 40 feet (12.2 m) tall [169,259] and 2 feet (0.6 m) in diameter [169]. Rocky Mountain maple is usually tall and spindly in closed stands, with a more dense and brushy growth form in open stands [233,234]. Though it may have a single dominant stem [80], Rocky Mountain maple most often occurs as a multi-stemmed shrub 5 to 6.5 feet (1.5-2 m) tall [74,80,123,169,172,325].

Rocky Mountain maple has opposite, ascending to erect branches, rounded twigs, and a narrow crown [123,150,325]. The bark of Rocky mountain maple is smooth until maturity, when fissures develop [150,156,159,310,325]. Rocky mountain maple has a wide, spreading root system with a combination of deep and lateral woody roots [123,310,325].

Rocky Mountain maple may be monoecious [74,123,150,172,203,256,310] or dioecious [74,123,141,172,203,310,325,328]. Flowers are borne in loose terminal cymes arising from lateral buds [74] and grow in drooping clusters [123]. The paired seeds are winged samaras [74,123,141,150,325,328]. Seeds are 0.16 to 0.2 inch (4-5 mm) long [256] and samaras are 0.08 to 0.12 inch (20-30 mm) long [203].

RAUNKIAER [262] LIFE FORM:
Phanerophyte

REGENERATION PROCESSES:
Seed production:
The mating system of Rocky Mountain maple is dioecious or staminate plants with some bisexual flowers [136]. Rocky Mountain maple likely begins to produce seed before 10 years of age [243]. The large seeds [128] are dispersed by wind [123,176,256,284,294,295], and Rocky Mountain maple often seeds into disturbed areas [62]. Seeds are both animal and wind pollinated [256]. Existing literature is conflicting regarding on-site seed storage; Stathers and others [289] report that Rocky Mountain maple regenerates from seed stored on-site, while Steele and Geier-Hayes [291,294,295] state that seed is not stored. Large seed crops occur every 1 to 3 years [123,243]. Seeds remain viable for short periods of time, losing their viability during dry, frosty periods [123]. Rocky Mountain maple seeds germinate in partial shade on mineral soil [86,123,294,295] or shallow organic layers [123]. Due to embryo dormancy, Rocky Mountain maple seeds require approximately 6 months of chilling to germinate [279].

Vegetative regeneration:
Following stem damage or top-kill, Rocky Mountain maple readily sprouts from the root crown [33,62,72,123,176,186,193,295]. Sprouts may not set seed for 3 years after disturbance [72].

Development:
Rocky Mountain maple experiences a rapid increase in height following disturbance, which tapers off around 20 years post-disturbance. Growth modeling estimates that Rocky Mountain maple may reach 4.2 feet (1.3 m) 2 years after disturbance and 10 feet (3 m) by 10 years after disturbance [178], and may overtop even rapidly growing tree seedlings [215]. Maximum heights are reached approximately 30 to 40 years after disturbance [233], on sites with 40 to 50% of full sunlight [144]. Even in closed canopies, Rocky Mountain maple grows above the dominant shrub layer [56].

SITE CHARACTERISTICS:
Temperature:
Rocky Mountain maple occurs in subalpine boreal, boreal, temperate, semiarid, and mesothermal climates [164,167]. Approximate temperatures on Rocky Mountain maple sites range from 14 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (-10-24 oC) [188,257,265,313]. Annual precipitation may by as low as 9 inches (229 mm) and as high as 60 inches (1,542 mm) [100,127,177,188,257,313,316].

Location:
Rocky Mountain maple occurs on wetlands, streambanks, canyons, and upland mountain slopes [2,71,72,74,158,172,239,263,265,307,325]. Though it occurs on both moist and dry sites [4,21,30,31,61,74,123,151,190,203,310,312], Rocky Mountain maple is more closely tied to drainages in arid zones of its distribution [79,97,177,310,311,324,325], but occurs on drier exposures northward and at higher elevations [325]. On upland sites, Rocky Mountain maple grows on lower, mid, and upper slopes [82,177,228,236,271], alluvial terraces [123,259], summits, ridgetops [4,177], snow chutes [122,123,204], and talus slopes [166,174,204,208]. Rocky Mountain maple is found on gentle, moderate, and steep slopes [82,177,188,189,205,228,233,290,336], with slopes ranging from 15 to 67% [3,99].

Elevation:
In southern California, Rocky Mountain maple is found from 5,980 to 10,000 feet (1,823-3,048 m) [222,316]. In Arizona and New Mexico, it is found between 5,000 and 12,000 feet (1,524-3,658 m) [7,47,79,82,153,203,221,228,261,307,324] on all aspects [4,81,177,192,228,311,324]. The lower elevation sites are often along streams or drainages [47,48,81,99,177,221,228]. In Colorado and Utah, Rocky Mountain maple grows at 5,000 to 12,700 feet (1,524-3,871 m) [40,93,130,159,174,175,205,242,290,310,336], with northern aspects being optimal for growth and establishment [310].

In northern California, northwestern Nevada, and Oregon, Rocky Mountain maple is common between 2,800 and 9,000 feet (853-2,743 m) [64,175,244]. In Idaho, Montana, and Washington, Rocky Mountain maple occurs between 1,500 and 8,900 feet (457-2,712 m) [36,56,70,75,91,112,196,257,269,293,295,335] on all aspects [61,100,196,234,249]. On sites in Idaho, percent cover of Rocky Mountain maple increased with elevation, but frequency did not [339]. Though it occurs on all aspects, studies in northern Idaho found that Rocky Mountain maple had significantly greater (F=0.05) percent cover on southern aspects than on northern aspects [233]. In British Columbia, Rocky Mountain maple occurs from 1,148 to 4,760 feet (350-1,450 m) [188,189].

Soils:
Rocky Mountain maple occurs on silty, loamy, sandy, gravelly, and rocky soils [45,100,127,177,205,228,290,325,336], with a moderately acidic to slightly basic pH [290,310,325]. It grows on sandstone, limestone, basalt, gneiss, rhyolite, calcareous, and granitic parent materials [45,64,100,112,127,205,290,316]. Rocky Mountain maple grows on shallow [123,233] as well as relatively deep [100,150,228,233,236,310], well developed soils [3,4,156]. Rocky Mountain maple has high requirements of calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus [123,167,233]. In British Columbia, it is reported to be an indicator of nitrogen-rich soils [164].

Drought and Shade Tolerance:
Rocky Mountain maple occupies well-watered [164] and well-drained sites [45,100,123,177,228,310,325], though it will tolerate imperfectly drained soils, periodic flooding, and moderately high water tables [90,166,167,325]. Rocky Mountain maple occupies sites with a range of moisture levels, competing by adjusting total leaf area through stomatal control and shifting the water potential of its leaves [123]. Rocky Mountain maple has a weak to moderate drought tolerance [310,325] and is winter hardy [123,167,169,325]. It is also moderately shade tolerant [123,226,310,325], but experiences more vigorous growth and fruiting in full sun [325].

SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:
Rocky Mountain maple occurs in old-growth and second-growth forests [13,148,187,209,257]. It is found in early seral stages [12,15,23,30,71,72,109,126,145,176,193,199,201,208,257,266,294,318,338,339], growing within the first 10 years following fire [303] through mature and climax stages [12,15,23,56,67,72,108,115,120,128,148,201,225,226,257,266,294,302,333,338,339]. In British Columbia, Rocky Mountain maple is common in deciduous pioneer forest communities [69] and in late successional and climax floodplain vegetation [60]. On sites in northern Idaho, Rocky Mountain maple was present in unlogged stands as well as stands 7, 14, and 25 years following logging. However, the presence of Rocky Mountain maple was found to decrease in later successional stages [333]. Also in northern Idaho, Rocky Mountain maple was found in closed, non-disturbed stands as well as stands subjected to various harvest and burn treatments [233]. As a prolific sprouter, Rocky Mountain maple rapidly revegetates disturbed areas [56]. Rocky Mountain maple is one of the most common deciduous species occurring on mesic sites in avalanche paths due to its ability to survive avalanche impact pressures via sprouting, and is characteristic of avalanche paths in northern Montana [52,53].

Rocky Mountain maple is a major component or dominant in seral shrub-dominant vegetation, which develops rapidly following disturbance in the northern Rockies [36,55,57,58,70,105,113,114,125,133,184,245,299,329,338]. Seral shrubfields result from recurring disturbance including fire and downslope movement of snow, ice, water, and rocks [55,184]. These shrubfields may actually inhibit tree seedling establishment through direct competition and indirectly by providing habitat for browsing animals that damage seedlings [125]. The Rocky Mountain maple/mallow ninebark complex frequently becomes dominant on sites in the northern Rockies [65]. Similar seral shrubfields occur in the southern Rockies. Rocky Mountain maple may actually provide shade to Douglas-fir seedlings aiding in establishment and survival [63].

Rocky Mountain maple may have higher percent cover or occur with greater frequency on more open sites [145,173]. However, Antos [15] found that Rocky Mountain maple shows little response to successional development, maintaining >5% cover in both young and old stands. Rocky Mountain maple is described as shade intolerant to shade tolerant [128,164]; the ability to persist in heavy shade makes it an important species in closed canopy stands [234].

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT:
Bud swell of Rocky Mountain maple occurs from late March through April [88,246], with bud burst occurring in early April to mid-May [88,123,275]. Leafing out occurs between mid-April and late May [88,135,246], with leaf growth occurring into late June [88,123,275]. Stem elongation begins in late April and continues to late August [88,246]. Rocky Mountain maple flowers from late April to late June [88,123,159,203,246,275]. Buds form in early to mid-July [88]. Fruit develops from June through August [246], and ripens from July into October [123,243,275]. Seed dispersal begins in September [123,243,275], but seeds may remain on stems as late as February [123,243]. Foliage coloration extends from early August to early September [88,123,275], and leaf fall lasts from early August to mid-November [88,123,246,275]. The timing of foliage coloration and leaf fall of Rocky Mountain maple may be related to moisture availability [88].

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Acer glabrum
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:
Rocky Mountain maple has been characterized as fire dependent, and may decline with fire exclusion [22]. Prolific sprouting and wind dispersal of seed of Rocky Mountain maple facilitate rapid revegetation of burned areas [56,144,176,259,284]. In quaking aspen/Rocky Mountain maple communities in Colorado, this rapid regeneration results in postfire vegetation that quickly resembles the prefire community [259]. Following fire, enhanced growth of Rocky Mountain maple may result in moderate growth loss of conifers and mortality of shade-intolerant conifers [86]. Due to aggressive competition, it may also interfere with conifer seedling establishment [280].

Rocky Mountain maple occurs as a major component or dominant in seral shrubfields in the northern Rockies. These shrubfields result from canopy removal by repeated severe fires [55,58,63,105,113,135,139,179,196,227,288,329,337]. Seral shrubfields have also been maintained with prescribed fire [184]. A lack of seed combined with increased soil temperatures and moisture stress inhibit tree regeneration and maintain the shrubfields. Fuels in persistent shrubfields consist primarily of the shrubs themselves with little large downed woody material and low litter amounts; in one study conducted in northern Idaho, fuel loading averaged 19.7 tons/acre. Persistent shrubfields may burn in any season; if fuels are continuous and dry, spring fires spread readily, and in summer, hot and dry conditions are exacerbated by nighttime inversions [288].

Fire regimes for plant communities and ecosystems in which Rocky Mountain maple occurs are summarized below. For further information regarding fire regimes and fire ecology of communities and ecosystems where Rocky Mountain maple is found, see the "Fire Ecology ad Adaptations" section of the FEIS species summary for the plant community or ecosystem dominants listed below.

Community or Ecosystem Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range (years)
silver fir-Douglas-fir Abies amabilis-Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii > 200 
grand fir Abies grandis 35-200 [19]
California chaparral Adenostoma and/or Arctostaphylos spp. < 35 to < 100 
sagebrush steppe Artemisia tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata 20-70 [253]
mountain big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. vaseyana 20-60 [20,51]
coastal sagebrush Artemisia californica < 35 to < 100 
California montane chaparral Ceanothus and/or Arctostaphylos spp. 50-100 [253]
curlleaf mountain-mahogany* Cercocarpus ledifolius 13-1000 [24,277]
mountain-mahogany-Gambel oak scrub Cercocarpus ledifolius-Quercus gambelii < 35 to < 100 
western juniper Juniperus occidentalis 20-70 
Rocky Mountain juniper Juniperus scopulorum < 35 [253]
western larch Larix occidentalis 25-100 
Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir Picea engelmannii-Abies lasiocarpa 35 to > 200 [19]
black spruce Picea mariana 35-200 [89]
blue spruce* Picea pungens 35-200 [19]
pinyon-juniper Pinus-Juniperus spp. < 35 [253]
Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine* Pinus contorta var. latifolia 25-300+ [17,19,270]
Sierra lodgepole pine* Pinus contorta var. murrayana 35-200 [19]
Colorado pinyon Pinus edulis 10-49 [253]
western white pine* Pinus monticola 50-200 
Pacific ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa 1-47 
interior ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum 2-10 
Table Mountain pine Pinus pungens < 35 to 200 [323]
quaking aspen (west of the Great Plains) Populus tremuloides 7-120 [19,116,211]
Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir* Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca 25-100 [19]
coastal Douglas-fir* Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii 40-240 [19,232,268]
California mixed evergreen Pseudotsuga menziesii var. m.-Lithocarpus densiflorus-Arbutus m. < 35 
California oakwoods Quercus spp. < 35 [19]
oak-juniper woodland (Southwest) Quercus-Juniperus spp. < 35 to < 200 [253]
canyon live oak Quercus chrysolepis <35 to 200 
blue oak-foothills pine Quercus douglasii-Pinus sabiana <35 
Oregon white oak Quercus garryana < 35 [19]
redwood Sequoia sempervirens 5-200 [19,98,308]
western redcedar-western hemlock Thuja plicata-Tsuga heterophylla > 200 
western hemlock-Sitka spruce Tsuga heterophylla-Picea sitchensis > 200 
mountain hemlock* Tsuga mertensiana 35 to > 200 [19]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species summary

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [304]:
Tall shrub, adventitious bud/root crown
Initial off-site colonizer (off-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Acer glabrum
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT:
Though top-killed by fire, Rocky Mountain maple generally has low susceptibility to fire due to its ability to survive via sprouting from the root crown [229,301,305,325]. Rocky Mountain maple may remain on sites where most of the understory vegetation is removed by fire [29]. However, after moderate to severe fire, survival of Rocky Mountain maple may be substantially reduced [43,44,62,132]. Generally, it is only temporarily reduced by fire because often the root crowns are so large that some buds always survive [230].

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT:
No entry

PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:
Rocky Mountain maple is generally favored by fire, recovering and increasing by sprouting vigorously from the root crown [44,71,132,178,182,185,193,224,229,264,288,303,325]. Sprouting of Rocky Mountain maple was observed 1 year after a severe fire in northern Montana [154].  After a severe crown fire in Idaho, Rocky Mountain maple sprouted within the first growing season [293]. The greatest sprouting response, however, is observed following light severity fires, with the least response occurring after a high severity burn [86]. Following a broadcast burn in Idaho, Rocky Mountain maple regenerated its entire prefire crown volume in the first postfire year [339]. Following fire, Rocky Mountain maple may grow 4 to 5 feet (1.2-1.5 m) in 3 years [86]. Rocky Mountain maple usually increases following fire, though survival and response may be reduced by severe fire [43,44,288,300].

Rocky Mountain maple also colonizes sites after fire via wind-dispersed seed [288].

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
Stickney [299] found Rocky Mountain maple to be sensitive to fire, with low survival, slow redevelopment, and slow recovery of percent cover on sites in Montana burned by wildfire and on broadcast burned sites.

For further information on postfire responses of multiple species in plant communities with Rocky Mountain maple, see the following Fire Studies:

FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Rocky Mountain maple was a principal component of slowly recovering open sites in western Montana after stand-replacing fire and broadcast burning [299]. It is highly competitive with tree species after burning [86,281]. Fire results in a substantial increase in Rocky Mountain maple sprouts [295].

Prescribed fire may initially reduce the percent cover of Rocky Mountain maple substantially, though in several years it is expected to approach or surpass pretreatment coverage [285]. Percent cover of Rocky Mountain maple may increase dramatically over prefire levels within 5 years of burning, however, variable results may be expected [62].

Rocky Mountain maple may experience an increase in crown volume following disturbance, sprouting more after burning than after logging treatments [56]. Within 3 years, crown diameters of Rocky Mountain maple may be equal to or greater than diameter prior to burning [180]. However, other studies have found that 2 years after burning, Rocky Mountain maple only recovered 8% of its prefire crown volume, and proportion of total shrub volume had decreased from 80% prefire to 14% postfire [193]. Three out of 4 harvest and burning treatments in Montana were found to effectively reduce Rocky Mountain maple shrub volume, though it began increasing again after 2 years posttreatment. The 4th treatment (no burning) left more individuals intact and they subsequently demonstrated less sprouting and Rocky mountain maple experienced no dramatic decline or increase in shrub volume [274]. After prescribed burning in Idaho, Rocky Mountain maple averaged 120 sprouts per plant; fall burning produced fewer but longer sprouts than spring burning [182]. Mean heights for Rocky Mountain maple were found to be greater on logged/broadcast burned sites than on logged or logged/piled/burned sites in Idaho [233].

Prescribed burning is used to maintain seral shrubfields and provide winter range for elk by retarding conifer dominance, decreasing the height of browse plants, increasing browse quality and palatability, and stimulating forage plants to regenerate from seed [179,180,212,240,288]. However, Rocky Mountain maple quickly grows out of reach of browsing animals due to its rapid regrowth after fire [139,180,326]. Miller and others [212] found that low-temperature fires might encourage excessive growth with leaders exceeding 6.5 feet (2 m) in a single growing season. Severe burns that actually damage Rocky Mountain maple and stunt leader growth may be better utilized to reduce leader heights to a usable level of 1.6 feet (.5 m) or less. Prescribed fire effectively improves forage availability in the short-term [25,56,193,195,326,331], and has been found to reduce height of Rocky Mountain maple from 7 to 16 feet (2.1-4.9 m) before fire to less than 7 feet (2.1 m) after fire [198]. Asherin [25] found that by the end of the 3rd postfire growing season, Rocky Mountain maple height exceeded 8 feet (2.4 m). Four years after burning in Idaho shrubfields, 80% of twig production remained within reach of elk [181,182]. Repeated burns at 10 to 15 year intervals are expected to maintain Rocky Mountain maple availability [181,182,184,288]; however, it is often difficult to re-establish trees on these sites in the future [288]. Broadcast burning of clearcuts in the northern Rockies may produce these seral shrubfields [162,281,338]; in 1 study, shrub-dominant vegetation occurred by the 8th postfire year [338]. Rocky Mountain maple was present within 4 years on another lightly burned clearcut [126].

After burning, browse production may be higher than prefire production initially [56,183], but annual production was observed to taper off by the 10th year, falling below prefire browse production [183]. Both spring and fall burning appear to increase Rocky Mountain maple palatability, based on heavy use in burned areas and browsing of larger twigs [180]. Crude protein levels may be higher in Rocky Mountain maple for up to 4 years following fire [240].

Injury due to fire may increase Rocky Mountain maple susceptibility to infection by parasitic Cytospora species [78].

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