Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Acer spicatum


SPECIES: Acer spicatum
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Sullivan, Janet. 1993. Acer spicatum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : ACESPI SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : ACSP2 COMMON NAMES : mountain maple low maple moose maple water maple moosewood plaine batarde erable fouereux TAXONOMY : The accepted scientific name for mountain maple is Acer spicatum Lam. There are no named subspecies, varieties, or forms [17,39]. LIFE FORM : Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Acer spicatum
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Mountain maple is found throughout southeastern Canada and the northeastern United States, from Newfoundland to Saskatchewan south to Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, northeastern Iowa, and in the mountains to western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee [17,20]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES10 White - red - jack pine FRES11 Spruce - fir FRES18 Maple - beech - birch FRES19 Aspen - birch STATES : CT IA ME MA MI MN NH NJ NY NC OH PA RI TN VT VA WV WI MB NB NF NS ON PE PQ SK BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest K094 Conifer bog K095 Great Lakes pine forest K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest K097 Southeastern spruce - fir forest K099 Maple - basswood forest K102 Beech - maple forest K103 Mixed mesophytic forest K106 Northern hardwoods K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest SAF COVER TYPES : 1 Jack pine 5 Balsam fir 15 Red pine 16 Aspen 17 Pin cherry 18 Paper birch 20 White pine - northern red oak - red maple 21 Eastern white pine 22 White pine - hemlock 23 Eastern hemlock 24 Hemlock - yellow birch 25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch 26 Sugar maple - basswood 27 Sugar maple 30 Red spruce - yellow birch 31 Red spruce - sugar maple - beech 32 Red spruce 33 Red spruce - balsam fir 34 Red spruce - Fraser fir 37 Northern white-cedar 39 Black ash - American elm - red maple 60 Beech - sugar maple 108 Red maple SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Mountain maple is an understory or subcanopy component in a number of northeastern forest associations. It is usually scattered in climax types, such as spruce-fir or sugar maple; it attains shrub-layer dominance in mid-seral types and occasionally will form a dense, continuous shrub layer in disturbed forests. The most common understory associates of mountain maple include hobblebush (Viburnum alnifolium), striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum), pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), American mountain-ash (Sorbus americana), beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta), speckled alder (Alnus rugosa), green alder (A. crispa), red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea), and red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) [60]. Ground layer associates vary with cover type. Typical associates include bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), Aster acuminatus, mountain woodsorrel (Oxalis montana), wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), and yellow beadlily (Clintonia borealis) [11,22,26,44]. Mountain maple is named as an subcanopy dominant or indicator species in the following publications: Some forest types of central Newfoundland and their relation to environmental factors [10] The principal plant associations of the Saint Lawrence Valley [11] A forest classification for the Maritime Provinces [40] Some aspects of the aspen-birch-spruce-fir type in Ontario [41] Wilderness ecology: virgin plant communities of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area [45] Classification and gradient analysis of forest vegetation of Cape Enrage, Bic Park, Quebec [61]


SPECIES: Acer spicatum
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Mountain maple wood is moderately light, soft, and low in strength. It is of no economic importance [27]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Mountain maple is browsed by moose, white-tailed deer, cottontails, snowshoe hares, and woodland caribou. The bark is consumed by moose, white-tailed deer, and beavers. Ruffed grouse consume the vegetative buds [28]. On Isle Royale, Michigan, mountain maple is the second most important summer browse for moose, and continues to be important through the fall and winter [30]. In the eastern part of its range, mountain maple is an important winter browse for moose, but usually not the most important [50]. It is a staple winter food for white-tailed deer in the Lake States [2]. PALATABILITY : Mountain maple is more palatable to moose than sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is but not as palatable as red maple (A. rubrum) [3]. In Ontario, moose will consume mountain maple in greater proportion than its availability [9]. Mountain maple is ranked high in palatability for white-tailed deer in New Brunswick [56]. Snowshoe hares prefer mountain maple for winter browse [56]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Mountain maple is one of the most nutritious browse species for white-tailed deer [27]. Nutritional values for mountain maple leaves (average for growing season) are as follows [21]: Percent of dry weight Phosphorus Potassium Calcium Magnesium Ash Protein Crude fiber 0.50 1.56 1.27 0.05 7.6 12.6 12.5 Milligrams per kilogram Iron Copper Zinc Manganese Energy (cal/gm) 282 11.8 49 560 4,452 Nutritional values for mountain maple twigs, averaged from August to April, were as follows (reported as percent of dry weight) [21]: ash protein crude fiber energy (cal/gm) 3.5 6.2 36.8 4,662 COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Mountain maple is sometimes planted as an ornamental [27]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Browse: Mountain maple can withstand repeated and heavy browsing, and produces the greatest amount of new growth when about 80 percent of the annual twig growth is removed each year. When it is not heavily browsed, mountain maple usually grows out of the reach of white-tailed deer in about 3 years [2,28,32]. It is commonly the dominant brushy vegetation in overpopulated deer yarding areas, and continues to produce well after 20 or more years of heavy usage [2]. Cutting the stems of mountain maple near ground level during the growing season is the most effective treatment to increase the amount of browse. The next most effective treatment is a breast-height spray of 2,4-D in the spring [28,31]. In New Hampshire, clearcuts increase the availability and nutritive quality of mountain maple browse [29]. Competition: Where spruce (Picea spp.) and balsam fir (Abies balsamea) are logged from mixed-wood slopes, mountain maple often grows opportunistically, forming a thick shrub layer and suppressing conifer seedling growth. Dying mountain maples actually produce more stems than healthy individuals [25,58]. After tree harvest in aspen-birch-spruce-fir types in Ontario, mountain maple and gray alder (Alnus rugosa var. americana) form closed shrub canopies. Both vegetative and seed reproduction occurs; cutover areas have characteristic large, vegetatively produced clumps of mountain maple and small, single stems that originated from seed [41]. Mountain maple suppressed hardwood reproduction for 10 to 15 years after overstory removal in Nova Scotia [14]. After logging in a red pine-white pine forest in northeastern Minnesota, a mountain maple layer developed underneath the conifer regeneration, and suppressed subsequent conifer establishment. Mountain maple was more dense in areas with low stocking levels of regenerating red or white pine than in areas that were adequately stocked [1]. Control: Reduction of mountain maple is sometimes necessary to promote tree regeneration. A bulldozer can be used to eradicate mountain maple, but care needs to be taken to uproot stems; merely crushing the crowns will stimulate growth [31]. Burning can be used to suppress mountain maple. Piling slash on maple thickets will ensure a fire hot enough to kill the roots [51].


SPECIES: Acer spicatum
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Mountain maple is a native, deciduous tall shrub or small tree [28]. In the Appalachian Mountains, the maximum height of mountain maple is 33 feet (10 m), but it is usually smaller. In the northern parts of its range, maximum height is 20 feet (6 m). Maximum d.b.h. is 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm) in the Appalachian Mountains and rarely over 3 to 4 inches (8-10 cm) in the north. This tree has a short, often crooked trunk, with a shrubby or clumped growth form [17,28]. The bark of mountain maple is drab and flaky or furrowed. The root system is shallow; the majority of the roots are close to the soil surface [27]. The fruit is a two-winged samara [28]. Height growth averages approximately 1 foot (0.3 m) per year, with maximum growth occurring when plants are 5 to 10 years of age [28]. Plants become decadent at around 40 to 50 years of age. Older mountain maples often produce more new vegetative growth than younger individuals [28]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual reproduction: Mountain maple reproduces by seed, which is wind disseminated [28]. Unlike most maples, mountain maple is insect pollinated [55]. Seeds need to be scarified and stratified for the most efficient germination. Mountain maple does not build up a seedbank; more seed are found in the seedfall then in seedbanks [52]. Germination and seedling establishment are better on undisturbed soils. No new germination was found in study plots that had the litter layer removed nor was any found on plots in clearcuts [52]. Seedling reproduction is less important than vegetative reproduction [28,37]. Asexual reproduction: Mountain maple reproduces by sprouting from underground, lateral stems and by layering [31]. Root suckers are rare [28]. The formation of clumps or colonies usually follows disturbance by browsing or cutting [31]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Mountain maple is found in cool woods where the climate is humid and precipitation is year-round. Growing seasons range from less than 120 days to more than 170 days. It has medium moisture and nutrient requirements, and low heat and light requirements [28]. In the north, mountain maple prefers rich, moist soils on rocky slopes and flats, and along streams. Mountain maple also grows well on drier or well-drained acid soils (podzols) [28,34,36]. Mountain maple can form a canopy on cliff faces [35]. It also occurs on talus slopes [35] and in forested bogs [22]. In the southern Appalachian Mountains, mountain maple is widely distributed and locally common at elevations of 2,800 to 5,600 feet (853-1706 m) [59]. In the Adirondack Mountains, New York, mountain maple ranges in elevation from 100 to 3,706 feet (30-1,130 m) but is most abundant between 2,500 and 3,000 feet (762-914 m) [34,63]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative seral species. Mountain maple is tolerant of deep shade but also grows well in sun; it tolerates strong sun better than does its close associate, striped maple [5,28]. The understory light regime in which mountain maple most commonly occurs is characterized by low, diffuse light punctuated by short pulses of sunflecks. Mountain maple's tendency to layer rapidly (unique amoung maples in its range) gives it a competitive advantage in the exploitation of light gaps [37]. Mountain maple colonizes the understory of seral tree species as the pioneer tree species decline, and often dominates the understory with beaked hazel. When it is released by canopy tree harvest, mountain maple may dominate the site within 5 to 10 years, suppressing the growth of spruce and fir seedlings for at least 35 years [28]. On jack pine (Pinus banksiana) sites, decadent jack pine may be replaced by a shrub layer that includes mountain maple; this shrub layer is then slowly replaced by white spruce (Picea glauca), black spruce (P. mariana), and balsam fir [16]. Mountain maple occurs in seral communities, such as quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), red pine (Pinus resinosa), or jack pine, that have remained undisturbed for at least 10 years. It exhibits a density/age distribution that is similar to that of climax trees [4,8]. In undisturbed, mature red pine-white pine communities in northeastern Minnesota, mountain maple forms a dense, high shrub layer with beaked hazel and American hazel that inhibits reproduction of later successional species such as balsam fir and spruce [1]. Mountain maple occurs, usually as scattered clumps, in the understory of spruce-fir or balsam fir climax communities [38,62]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Mountain maple flowers from May to June, after the leaves are fully developed [28,55]. Fruit ripens from mid-September to mid-October [28].


SPECIES: Acer spicatum
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Mountain maple occurs in some habitats, sucah as boreal mixed woods, which are at least moderately susceptible to fire. Fire was the major mode for stand replacement in these forests prior to fire suppression [41]. Red pine-white pine forests in the northern parts of the Great Lakes states have a fire regime of relatively short-interval, low-intensity surface fires, which prevents the development of balsam fir-white spruce-northern white-cedar and other shade-tolerant invaders, such as mountain maple [26,42]. Laddering crown fires in pine forests with balsam fir, spruce, and northern white-cedar understories prevent the development of tall shrub layers of hazel, alder, and mountain maple. Fire exclusion is now encouraging balsam fir-spruce-northern white-cedar types with mountain maple in the tall shrub layers [8,26]. Mountain maple also occurs in communities that are not susceptible to fire, such as the red spruce-balsam fir forest of upper elevations, and the mixed hardwood-conifer forests of lower slopes [26]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tall shrub, adventitious-bud root crown Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community) Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Acer spicatum
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Mountain maple is girdled at the root collar by low-severity, surface fires, and is killed by severe fires [12]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Top-killed mountain maple sprouts from underground stems or from the root-collar [7,12]. Growth rates of 12 to 30 inches (0.3-0.75 m) for the first postfire growing season have been reported [12]. Krefting and others [31], however, found that burning individual plants did not increase the amount of regrowth compared with unburned controls. Mountain maple seedling establishment is not enhanced by bare mineral soil [52]. In eastern North America, coastal fir forests can be replaced by shrublands of speckled alder and mountain maple after fire, particularly on fertile soils [18]. Mountain maple also invades pine forest sites that have been repeatedly burned [23]. Spring fires appear to have little effect on cover of mountain maple; it neither increases nor decreases. During the first summer after the Little Sioux Burn (which occurred in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in May), mountain maple was abundant, with a varying distribution, but it was also abundant in areas that did not burn [6]. Tall shrub density fluctuated in following years, but by 1975 was generally lower than in 1971 [44]. A prescribed fire in aspen-mixed hardwood in Minnesota resulted in a decline in the amount of mountain maple [49]. Postfire succession in spruce-fir will usually not include mountain maple until the pioneering birch and aspen trees become decadent, 50 or more years after fire [13]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Acer spicatum
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