Rocky Mountain maple
Acer glabrum Torr
Rocky Mountain maple is a small, often multi-stemmed tree. It grows on wetlands, stream banks and slopes. The species covers a wide range of moisture levels, is moderately shade tolerant, and grows at elevations of 350 to 1,450 m. It grows in the understory of coniferous forests, in mixed shrub communities, and, at high elevations, mixed with deciduous trees. As a prolific sprouter, it rapidly reclaims disturbed sites such as avalanche paths. Rocky Mountain maple is an important tree for wildlife. A variety of animals feed on the leaves, buds, twigs and seeds. It also provides good shelter for many animals. Because of its tolerance to drought and its ability to sprout, it is used as an ornamental and for stabilizing roadsides and riverbanks (Anderson 2001). The first peoples used its tough, pliable wood in a variety of ways. The bark was used for making rope and the wood is an excellent fuel (Turner 1979).
Rocky Mountain maple occurs from Alaska to California on the Pacific coast, and further south to Arizona and New Mexico in the Cordilleran mountains. More than half of the range is located outside of British Columbia (Little 1976).
Distribution and Protected Areas – from Hamann et.al. 2005
Conservation Status Summary – from Chourmouzis et.al. 2009
No in situ conservation concerns were identified for this species.
Rocky Mountain maple is resilient to many disturbances because it can readily sprout from stumps after damage. Yet, sexual regeneration of this species may be difficult. Large seed crops only occur every one to three years (Olson and Gabriel 1974; Haeussler et al. 1990; Banerjee et al. 2001), and seeds may lose their viability quickly during dry, frosty periods. Haeussler et al. (1990) and Stathers et al. (1990) state that seeds stored on-site play an important role in regeneration. If so, such seed would provide a buffer for local populations against drastic changes. However, Steele and Geier-Hayes (1995) disagree that such stored seed would account for much of the regeneration.
Because of its wide range, the species is likely to show substantial regional genetic differentiation. Although there are no genetic studies available, this is reflected in the fact that six taxonomic varieties have been recognized rangewide (Anderson 2001).
Resource management and seed transfer
No information available.