Bigleaf Maple. Acer Macrophyllum. This is a plant of opportunity: a little open ground, a shaft of sunlight–Whoomp. There it is. When mature it will grow to fifty feet high and wide, occasionally reaching 90 feet by 90 feet. It is a stalwart of the second growth forest. They are pretty when in leaf, and are attractive of mosses and licorice fern
which give them a stately and serene appearance.
They also seem to grow a knuckle-y knob just above the root, and then put huge, nearly vertical top growth above that as they compete to reach the sky. When bare this makes them look precarious at best–and as the branches rattle and crack together in the merest zephyr of a breeze, you worry for your brand new roof and wonder the cost of hazard tree permits and removal. And they are bare most of the time. The phenomenal leaf drop began in mid-September and was fairly complete a couple weeks later, unless you count the twigs and branches which have been steadily falling ever since. Now it is almost May and I have just this weekend seen leaf buds, so they may be in full leaf by June. If you have one, or thirty or so like I do, there is likely a chipper/shredder in your future. At least you could turn the tremendous mess into something useful. Allegedly they have a similar sap to a sugar maple, so perhaps I have a syrup-making opportunity. If you don’t have one, and are standing there in the nursery thinking about buying one, here is what you need: more than an acre of property. Gutter screens (my overflowing gutters, 45 feet up, make my roof appear from ground level as though it is costumed as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream). A large rake. The patience to continually tidy up during the 8 1/2 months in which the tree will litter your yard.
Never mind. Get a different plant.