The mountain maple, or acer spicatum, is a species of maple that is native to northeastern North America, though it can be found growing in the highlands as far south as Georgia. The mountain maple is a denizen of moist woods and rock well drained soils and can reach heights of 15 to 40 feet. This deciduous tree is one of the species of maple that have been used for centuries in the production of maple sugar and syrup due to the rich sugary sap which the tree produces and is harvested in winter.
The leaves of the mountain maple are opposite and simple, 3-5 inches long with 3-5 shallow broad lobes. The leaves and slender branches form an exquisitely spreading crown over the short trunk, this makes the mountain maple highly prized as a small shade tree. The mountain maple produces reddish colored samara, the familiar wing shaped leaflets which contain the seed in late summer to early autumn and with the breezes of autumn these samara can be seen whirring through the air like miniature helicopters.
For those who have an interest in landscaping and gardening the mountain maple is an excellent choice when planted as a small shade tree or just as an accent. Since the mountain maple is a native species, those in northeastern North America and the highlands of the Appalachians can plant the tree with no worry of ecological damage being done by and invasive species.