The mountain maple (Acer spicatum) is a large deciduous shrub or small tree which can attain heights of 20 to 30 feet. The trunk diameter is 4 to 8 inches, short, with short, slender, upright branches. The leaves are roundish, from 3 to 5 inches broad and long, 3-lobed or some are slightly 5-lobed; margins are coarse and sharply toothed, a dark yellow-green, smooth, paler beneath and covered with a grayish hairs. In the fall, the leaves turn orange and scarlet.
Habitat: Found growing on steep north and east facing wooded slopes in extreme northeast Iowa.
Hardiness: Maples vary in hardiness. Most fall into zones 4 through 8, but some are less tolerant of cold or heat than others. When selecting a maple tree, be sure to select a species suited for Iowa’s weather.
Growth Rate: Maples vary in growth rate. Maples that are fast growing tend to have weak wood and may suffer from wind and ice damage. Slower growing maples have heavier, harder wood, making them less susceptible to branch and limb drop.
Mature Shape: Maples typically have a large, rounded crown. Tree canopies may be very dense or wide spreading.
Height: Mature height varies with species.
Width: Width varies with species.
Site Requirements: Maple trees perform best in moist, well-drained soils. Site requirements vary with the species of maple.
The mountain maple is usually found in cool, shady, moist, and rocky mountain forests; it is a common understory tree. It closely resembles the stripped maple and they share the same habitat. It is rarely used commercially, and it makes good browse for white-tailed deer.
The range is from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to Sasskatchewan southward to the northeastern United States, and along the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia. In Iowa, it is confined to the northeast corner of the state.