1/14/2012

Big Leaf Maple Comes By Name Honestly

Large Big leaf maple, San Juan Bridge Forestry Service Campground
The largest known Big leaf maple in the province of BC grows on the lower mainland in Vancouver's city-center Stanley Park. The big-leafed big tree is 10.70 m/35 ft in circumference, 29 m/95 ft in height, with a crown spread of 19.5 m/64 ft, and 533 AFA points. Stanley Park has champion maples galore with 5 more on the list of BC's 10 largest Big leaf maples.

That's not to say that Vancouver Island doesn't have some large maples of its own, like the epiphyte-draped tree shown above. This tree is in the same area as the more famous San Juan Spruce, the largest spruce tree in Canada. The Big leaf maple is a short distance away, dominating the center of the campground, and looking like something out of a Tolkien tale.

Big leaf maple leaves/seeds
The Big leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), is the largest maple in Canada, and the largest deciduous tree in the coastal forest. This tree lives up to its name and produces giant leaves as large as a medium pizza.

A favourite fall activity on the coast is getting out into the forest to see who can collect the largest leaf. Not surprisingly, the winner is usually found in Vancouver.

The largest maple leaf currently on record measured 53 cm (20.86 in) wide and 52.2 cm (20.55 in) long and was discovered by Vikas Tanwar and family in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, on 14 December 2010. 

Big Leaf Maple Facts
  • grows up to 40 m tall, with leaves possibly up to 60 cm wide
  • in forest has narrow crown with single branch free trunk and small narrow crown
  • in open trunk branches low down into many branch trunks growing into a large crown
  • restricted to southwest corner of BC low to mid-elevations
  • like gravely moist soil as beside rivers and lakes
  • grows in mixed forests
  • older trees are draped in mosses, ferns and lichens because the bark is rich in nutrients and moisture
  • the tree will extend roots up from the branches into the gathering moist material resting on them
  • older trees are notorious for dropping large limbs

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