I’ve been taking frequent walks in the fabulous forests they have here, and as I do I encounter more and more fun organisms that I don’t recognize. I wouldn’t be able to tell you the names of all the things I’d encounter while walking through a forest (or other habitat) in Ontario, but most of them would be familiar at least. As I wander around here, I find myself compelled to examine and identify the things I don’t recognize. Maybe this isn’t because I’m in a new place, but because I’ve been spending so much more time outside than I did in Toronto… Actually, that seems most probable.
Anyway, let me introduce you to my friend Acer circinatum or Vine Maple.
(photo by Mike Boers)
The leaves are kind of fuzzy on one side, and the trees grow as spindly-sprawly shrub things. They’re colonizing trees; they like to get in quick after a disturbance, like Alders or paper birch. They hang out in the understory in older forests (which is where I saw this one). They’re super bendy, so sometimes the top ends up growing so that it rests on the ground – if it does, then the top may take root giving you an ARCH. They’re planted as ornamental trees outside of their native ranges (like Toronto and Ottawa – so you might be able to spy it if you’re over there).
While looking for the identity of this tree, I found this fun resource. Though the image in there of a Vine Maple leaf doesn’t look like this to me… it looks more like a classic maple leaf to me.