Herb: Vine Maple

Latin name: Acer circinatum

Family: Aceraceae (Maple Family)

Medicinal use of Vine Maple:

The wood was burnt to charcoal and mixed with water and brown sugar then used in the treatment of dysentery and polio.

Description of the plant:


12 m
(39 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Forests, along banks of streams and in rich alluvial soils of bottomlands up to 1200 metres.

Edible parts of Vine Maple:

The sap contains a certain amount of sugar and can either be used as a drink, or can be concentrated into a syrup by boiling off the water. The syrup is used as a sweetener on many foods. The concentration of sugar is considerably lower than in the sugar maples (A. saccharum). The tree trunk is tapped in the early spring, the sap flowing better on warm sunny days following a frost. The best sap production comes from cold-winter areas with continental climates.

Other uses of the herb:

The leaves are packed around apples, rootcrops etc to help preserve them. The young shoots are quite pliable and are used in basket making. Straight shoots can be used to make open-work baskets. A charcoal made from the wood can be mixed with oil and used as a black paint. Wood - hard, heavy, durable, close-grained, strong according to some reports, but not strong according to others. Too small to be commercially important, the wood is used for cart shafts, tool handles, small boxes etc. One report says that the wood is quite pliable and was used for making bows, snowshoe frames etc, whilst young saplings could be used as swings for baby cradles. The wood is almost impossible to burn when green and has served as a cauldron hook over the fire.

Propagation of Vine Maple:

Seed is usually of good quality when produced in gardens. It is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it usually germinates in the following spring. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify for 2 - 4 months at 1 - 8C. It can be slow or very poor to germinate, especially if it has been dried. The seed can be harvested "green" (when it has fully developed but before it has dried and produced any germination inhibitors) and sown immediately. It should germinate in late winter. If the seed is harvested too soon it will produce very weak plants or no plants at all. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until they are 20cm or more tall before planting them out in their permanent positions. This tree often self-layers and can be propagated by this means. Cuttings of young shoots in June or July. The cuttings should have 2 - 3 pairs of leaves, plus one pair of buds at the base. Remove a very thin slice of bark at the base of the cutting, rooting is improved if a rooting hormone is used. The rooted cuttings must show new growth during the summer before being potted up otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter. Cultivars of this species can be grafted onto A. palmatum, which makes a better rootstock than this species.

Cultivation of the herb:

Forests, along banks of streams and in rich alluvial soils of bottomlands up to 1200 metres.

Known hazards of Acer circinatum:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.