Striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum) (8), also called moosewood, is a small tree or large shrub identified by its conspicuous vertical white stripes on greenish-brown bark. It grows best on shaded, cool northern slopes of upland valleys where it is common on welldrained sandy loams in small forest openings or as an understory tree in mixed hardwoods. This very slow growing maple may live to be 100 and is probably most important as a browse plant for wildlife, although the tree is sometimes planted as an ornamental in heavily shaded areas (33,37).
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Occurrence in North America
NY NC OH PA RI SC TN VT VA WV
NB NS ON PE PQ
Striped maple is widely distributed over the northeastern quarter of the
United States and adjacent southeastern Canada. Its natural range
extends from Nova Scotia and the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec west to
southern Ontario, Michigan, and eastern Minnesota; south to northeastern
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and in the Appalachian Mountains to
northern Georgia [6,14].
Striped maple is a native, deciduous, tall shrub or small tree. It
reaches a maximum height of about 45 feet (13 m), but is usually smaller
[11,16]. It has a short, forked trunk divided into a few ascending,
arching branches, forming a broad but uneven, flat-topped to rounded
crown. The branchlets are straight and slender [6,11]. Striped maple
is primarily dioecious; monoecy is rare. The sex ratio is male-biased.
Hibbs  reported that 80 percent of a Massachusetts population was
male. The fruit of striped maple is a two-winged sumara. The root
system is shallow and wide-spreading [6,11].
moist, shaded, north-facing slopes. In middle elevations and on mesic
sites in the Green Mountains of Vermont, it is found from 1,830 to 2,830
feet (550-830 m) in elevation. It reaches best development below 2,430
feet (730 m) in elevation [6,9].
Key Plant Community Associations
Striped maple is a common but minor understory forest component. It
appears as an understory species in boreal mixed woodland, and in
spruce-fir and hardwood types in northern forest regions.
The most common understory associates of striped maple include
hobblebush (Viburnum alnifolium), Canada yew (Taxus canadensis),
mountain maple (Acer spicatum), oxalis (Oxalis spp.), eastern
hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), American hornbeam (Carpinus
caroliniana), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), hawthorn (Crataegus
spp.), and pawpaw (Asimina triloba) [6,17,25].
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
5 Balsam fir
17 Pin cherry
18 Paper birch
20 White pine - northern red oak - red maple
21 Eastern white pine
22 White pine - hemlock
23 Eastern hemlock
24 Hemlock - yellow birch
25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
26 Sugar maple - basswood
27 Sugar maple
28 Black cherry - maple
30 Red spruce - yellow birch
31 Red spruce - sugar maple - beech
32 Red spruce
35 Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir
44 Chestnut oak
51 White pine - chestnut oak
60 Beech - sugar maple
107 White spruce
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest
K102 Beech - maple forest
K103 Mixed mesophytic forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest
K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES18 Maple - beech - birch
FRES19 Aspen - birch
Soils and Topography
Soil moisture and texture influence the local distribution of striped maple. It is common on sandy loams that are moist and well drained (23,42). A study of local distribution in western Massachusetts showed that on study plots where striped maple was present there was a positive correlation between species density and windthrow mounds that resulted in small openings in the stand. No significant correlations were found with depths of organic and A horizons, rock outcrops, or stoniness of soils (13,16).
In areas of granitic drift in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, striped maple of sapling size was most abundant (15 percent of total basal area) on soils with a matrix of sharp-angled or rounded boulders or on nearly pure weathered granite found not more than 65 cm (26 in) below the top of mineral soil (24). On wet compact till and on washed till, the species made up 6.8 percent and 7.3 percent of the stand basal area, respectively It is one of five species that seems to be permanent and abundant in local distribution on a well-drained, fine, sandy loam podzol in the White Mountains (23).
Striped maple and its associates are found on glaciated knoll tops and slopes in Quebec (26). In the mountainous areas of New England, it develops best at elevations between 550 and 800 m (1,800 and 2,600 ft) (2,42). It apparently does not do well at higher elevations in the northeast. In two transects beginning at 610 and 630 m (2,000 and 2,070 ft) at different locations in the white Mountains of New Hampshire, striped maple was only 2 to 4 percent of the basal area of the forest stand (25). It dropped out completely between elevations of 830 and 860 m (2,720 and 2,820 ft).
Density of striped maple in western Massachusetts increased with a slope up to 450 and with an elevation up to 700 m (2,300 ft) (13,16). Growth increased on northerly facing, local aspects and on steeper slopes and towards the top of slopes. In the southern Appalachian Mountains, the species is common on mesic sites with an elevation between 760 and 1370 m (2,500 and 4,500 ft); above this elevation it disappears very rapidly (46).
Striped maple attains its best growth on shaded, cool northern slopes in deep valleys (18). It can exist under a number of different combinations of environmental factors, but as a mesophyte it favors habitats where moisture conditions are moderate.
Associated Forest Cover
17 Pin Cherry
20 White Pine - Northern Red Oak - Red Maple
22 White Pine - Hemlock
23 Eastern Hemlock
24 Hemlock -Yellow Birch
25 Sugar Maple Beech - Yellow Birch
28 Black Cherry-Maple
30 Red Spruce - Yellow Birch
31 Red Spruce - Sugar Maple - Beech
32 Red Spruce
35 Paper Birch - Red Spruce - Balsam Fir
60 Beech - Sugar Maple
In the boreal hardwoods, striped maple is found in association with the following overstory species: pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), bigtooth aspen (P. grandidentata), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), yellow birch (B. alleghaniensis), red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (A. saccharum), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), northern red oak (Quercus rubra), balsam fir (Abies balsamea), and red spruce (Picea rubens).
In the spruce-fir cover types in the northern forest region, the dominant species in association with striped maple are red spruce, gray birch (Betula populifolia), American mountain ash (Sorbus americana), American beech, and sugar maple. In the northern hardwoods, the most common overstory species are sugar maple, American beech, yellow birch, black cherry (Prunus serotina), and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) (2,13,16,42). Striped maple in the southern Appalachian Mountains appears with eastern hemlock, Carolina silverbell (Halesia carolina), yellow buckeye (Aesculus octandra), sugar maple, white basswood (Tilia heterophylla), yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea), black birch (Betula lenta), and witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) (46).
The most common understory species associated with striped maple in addition to reproduction of the overstory species are hobblebush (Viburnum alnifolium), Canada yew (Taxus canadensis), mountain maple (Acer spicatum), woodsorrell (Oxalis spp.), eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), and pawpaw (Asimina triloba).
Diseases and Parasites
The species is relatively free of insect attack. However, it is subject to infestation by one of the flatheaded borers, Agrilus politus, which forms stem galls (4).
Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire
in the southern Appalachians of North Carolina provides information on
prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species, including
striped maple, that was not available when this species review was originally
Plant Response to Fire
Striped maple probably sprouts from the root crown after fire .
Information regarding postfire establishment of striped maple is sparse.
On the George Washington National Forest, West Virginia, a spring prescribed
fire increased total striped maple density in a mixed-hardwood forest.
Average striped maple seedling densities before fire and in postfire year 5
were were 3,921 and 2,158 seedlings/acre, respectively; striped maple sprout
densities were 342 sprouts/acre before and 1,658 sprouts/acre 5 years after
the fire. See the Research Paper of Wendel and Smith's  study for details
on the fire prescription and fire effects on striped maple and 6 other tree
Immediate Effect of Fire
Striped maple establishes from seed and/or sprouts after fire .
Crown fire that burns only the upper canopy of a deciduous forest
presumably has little effect on striped maple, because striped
maple never reaches the upper canopy. Crown fire can create
partial openings in a stand, ideal for striped maple recruitment [2,4,15].
Tall shrub, adventitious-bud root crown
Crown residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer - off-site seed
Striped maple is moderately resistant to low-severity fires. In a study
of tree survival after low-severity surface fires in Great Smoky
Mountains National Park, striped maple showed a positive correlation of
bark thickness to tree diameter growth. Equations relating bark
thickness, tree diameter, tree diameter growth rate, and fire survival
were given .
Facultative Seral Species
Striped maple is tolerant of deep shade but develops best under moderate
light [3,16]. Rapid shoot growth can occur under low light intensity,
but the growth is etiolated. Under direct sunlight, striped maple is
succeeded by mountain maple. It grows well in small forest openings and
under thinned overstories that result in moderate understory lighting.
Because its maximum height growth is about 50 feet (15 m), it never
becomes a major component in the upper canopy of northern hardwood
forests. It may, however, occupy forest openings for more than 100
Sexual reproduction: Striped maple reproduces mostly by seed. Seed
production varies from tree to tree; some trees produce as few as 10
seeds, whereas others produce several thousand. Seed production begins
at about 10 years of age, and large seed crops are produced every year.
The seeds are wind dispersed [6,18].
A small proportion of striped maples undergo gender change. The gender
of such trees may differ from year to year [9,19]. In one year, in a
sample of trees taken in western Massachusetts, 27 of 243 trees changed
sex. Most changes were from male to female .
Vegetative reproduction: Vegetative reproduction does not seem to play
an important part in the reproduction of striped maple. Although it
reproduces by layering and basal sprouting, sampling of striped maple
populations showed that only 3 percent of the trees originated from
layering, and 8 percent by sprouting . In general, vegetative
propagation seems to be a mechanism by which it survives suppression
rather than increases in number .
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
Reaction to Competition
Striped maple is often considered a serious silvicultural problem. When large numbers of this species occupy an understory before cutting, they frequently become the dominant vegetation after cutting, excluding more desirable species (17). In Allegheny
hardwood stands in northwestern Pennsylvania, Marquis and others (30) found that when more than 30 percent of the 1.83-m (6-ft) radius regeneration plots had more than eight striped maple seedlings before clearcutting, these species became dominant after cutting. If the number of striped maple stems exceeds these recommendations, it is essential to reduce their number before harvest cutting to permit establishment of regeneration of desirable hardwood species. Striped maple can be controlled with glyphosate applied with a mistblower at the rate of 1.12 kg/ha (1 lb/acre) a.i. Best kill was achieved when applied from July 1 through September 1 (17).
Life History and Behavior
Striped maple flowers from May to June. The fruits ripen in September
and October and are dispersed in October and November .
In vitro culture of striped maple has been successful. Callus tissue was formed in a medium consisting of a mixture of coconut milk, naphthalene acetic acid, sucrose, and salt (31).
Delay in germination of striped maple seed was reduced when two-thirds of the basal area of the stand was removed and was completely eliminated when the stand was clearcut (29). In the clearcut, however, total germination dropped sharply with the complete removal of the overstory.
Seed germination is epigeal, with the radicle first to emerge. Soon after the emergence and elongation of the radicle, the shoot begins its upward growth. The cotyledons unfold and are followed by the formation of the first pair of leaves. The leaf margins are serrate and lobes are usually absent. The leaf area is small, ranging from about 25 to 65 mm (1 to 2.5 in) (5).
Suppressed new seedlings generally grow less than 30 mm (1.2 in) per year and mortality is nearly 90 percent after the first growing season. In the following 15 years, the mortality rate drops to less than 1 percent per year. Between 15 and 40 years of age, mortality rises to 3.8 percent per year but drops to 1.6 percent after 40 years (13,14).
Growth and Yield
The species is well adapted to survival under heavy shade. As a suppressed understory tree, its growth and development are extremely slow. Height growth over a 10-year period may be as little as 30 cm (12 in), but trees that have been heavily suppressed for 35 to 40 years respond well to release(13,14).
Growth rate of trees following the removal of the overstory is correlated with growth rate before over-story removal, whether or not they were previously growing in a suppressed or released state. The maximum rate of growth observed among released striped maple under optimum light was 1 m (3.3 ft) per year. The species grows well in small forest openings and under a thinned overstory that results in moderate understory lighting. Because its maximum height growth is about 15 m (49 ft), it will never become a major member in the upper canopy of the northern hardwood forest cover type, though the species has been known to occupy forest openings for more than 100 years (13,14).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Sex expression was studied in two different samples of 69 and 243 trees each in western Massachusetts. Results of both samples were nearly identical, implying that no genetic differences existed in sex expression between the two areas sampled and that samples came from the same population with respect to the character sampled.
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Acer pensylvanicum
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread and common small tree species of southeastern Canada and northern U.S., ranging southward along the Appalachians.
Comments: Land-use conversion, habitat fragmentation, and forest management practices are low-level threats to this species in the southernmost portion of its wide range (Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project 2002).
When striped maple regeneration is abundant before cutting, it
frequently become the dominant species after cutting, excluding more
desirable species . In northwest
Pennsylvania, when more than 30
percent of regeneration plots had more than eight striped maple
seedlings before clearcutting, this species became dominant after
cutting. If the number of striped maple stems exceeds this percentage,
it is essential to reduce their numbers before cutting to encourage
regeneration of desirable hardwood species. Striped maple can be
controlled with glyphosate applied with a mistblower at the rate of 1
lb/acre (1.12 kg/ha). Best kill was achieved when applied from July 1
through September 1 [6,10].
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
species for rabbits, and is frequently eaten by porcupines. The leaves
and shoots are browsed by moose, white-tailed deer, and beavers [11,12].
Ruffed grouse consume the vegetative buds . The nectar is an
important food source for honeybees .
Wood Products Value
occasionally been used by cabinet makers for inlay material .
Other uses and values
Striped maple is occasionally planted as an ornamental tree. Because it does poorly in full sun-light, it must be planted with other species. It was introduced into England about 1760, and into continental Europe shortly thereafter where reportedly it reached heights of 9 to 12 m (30 to 40 ft) with trunk diameters up to 45 cm (18 in).
The wood of the species is diffuse-porous, white, and fine grained, and on occasions has been used by cabinet makers for inlay material. Botanists who visited North America in the early 18th century found that farmers in the American colonies and in Canada fed both dried and green leaves of the species to their cattle during the winter. when the buds began to swell in the spring, they turned their horses and cows into the woods to browse on the young shoots.
An active antitumor substance has been isolated from striped maple, and tests are underway to determine its practical application (10).
Acer pensylvanicum (striped maple, also known as moosewood and moose maple) is a species of maple.
The young bark is striped with green and white, and when a little older, brown.
The leaves are broad and soft, 8–15 cm long and 6–12 cm broad, with three shallow forward-pointing lobes.
The spelling pensylvanicum is the one originally used by Linnaeus.
The natural range extends from Nova Scotia and the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec, west to southern Ontario, Michigan, and eastern Minnesota; south to northeastern Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and in the mountains to northern Georgia.
Moosewood is an understory tree of cool, moist forests, often preferring slopes. It is among the most shade-tolerant of deciduous trees, capable of germinating and persisting for years as a small understory shrub, then growing rapidly to its full height when a gap opens up. However, it does not grow high enough to become a canopy tree, and once the gap above it closes through succession, it responds by flowering and fruiting profusely, and to some degree spreading by vegetative reproduction.
- "Striped Maple". Retrieved 8 September 2014.
- Hibbs, D. E; B. C. Fischer (1979). "Sexual and Vegetative Reproduction of Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum L.)". Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 106: 222– 227.
Names and Taxonomy
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