Striped Maple

Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum)


The striped maple is one of our four native maples. It is considered an under-story tree, since it seldom grows tall enough to be in the forest canopy. It is also called moose maple (it is heavily browsed in provinces where moose are still present) and goosefoot maple (reflecting the shape of the leaf).


The striped maple has a lovely light striping on the bark, especially on the younger wood. The three-pointed “goosefoot” leaves can be up to .3m (1ft) wide. Like all maples, the buds are formed opposite one another along the stem and the leaves are simple – they have no individual “leaflets” making up a leaf. Though most specimens grow to less than .3m (1ft.) in diameter, some trees around the Wood Islands area are twice as large. The seeds are formed in pale green clusters that add glamour to an already lovely tree.


Striped maple is most commonly found growing in upland forests, with moist but not wet soil. It grows in association with sugar and red maple, yellow birch, beech, hemlock and white pine.


Seeds should be collected in early September and can be planted right away into a nursery bed. Cover with mulch for the win-ter and space the young when they germinate the following spring. Another easy and relatively fool-proof method is transplanting from the woods to a nursery bed (this works well for sugar and red maples as well).

The worry over transplanting is that you will degrade one area to improve another, and/or you will damage the roots of existing trees when digging up young plants. The only sound way I have found to avoid these real concerns is to find an area where there are one or two year-old seedlings growing by the hundreds or even thousands underneath good quality trees.

Take a bucket containing wet seaweed or sawdust with you and just using your fingers, reach in and pry out the small seedlings. Make sure that the roots don’t dry out by placing them immediately into your bucket and covering them with whatever medium you have brought along. It is best to do this on a damp day, though under the forest canopy it is quite safe to transplant by these methods on a dry day. There are places where you can sit down and find a hundred seedlings within reach. If you only collect where the numbers of seedlings are very high, limit your collecting to 10% of the seedlings, and don’t collect from the same place every year, the forest will likely never know you were there. These seedlings should be planted as soon as possible into a nursery or garden bed at 15cm (6 in.) spacing, mulched and well-watered. If the bed is in full sun, some kind of shade table should be placed above the seedlings. In a year or two you will have lovely young maples to add to your woodlands.

Wildlife uses:

The young twigs of striped maple are browsed by snowshoe hare, while red squirrels, chipmunks and ruffed grouse eat the seeds. Striped maple are also very useful to wildlife in that they help diversify the vertical profile of a forest, adding to the dense layers in a woodland that are attractive to many wildlife species for nesting, feeding and perching.


Striped maple is a species that is commonly used at Macphail Woods to help diversify forests, especially those that are being converted from predominantly white spruce to mixed wood stands. It is an excellent tree to plant in these small patch or strip cuts. Add one or two per block, along with the longer lived species such as yellow birch, sugar maple, red oak and white pine. Striped maple grows quite quickly and will provide shade, leaf litter and nesting habitat in these areas. They also can be used to add diversity to young conifer plantations and can be successfully underplanted where appropriate conditions exist.

Additional Information:

Striped Maple is generally confined to the hardwood areas of the province. In general, it is a tall shrub or a small tree but in one known area around Charlottetown it reaches a height of 40 to 50 feet with a diameter of around 10 inches. Generally the trunk is short, dividing a few feet from the ground into several straight, mostly upright limbs, which for a broad deep crown. It prefers cool moist soils and where protected from the direct rays of the sun. Very often it forms the shrubby understory beneath mixed stands of red spruce, eastern hemlock, yellow birch, beech and sugar maple. The distinguishing characteristic of it’s smooth green bark, vertically streaked with white, where the bark has split open. Like the mountain maple, the wood is of no commercial importance. Deer and moose feed upton the buds and leaves.

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