Deciduous Trees, Pacific Northwest
The Douglas Maple Trees are a small tree, up to 7 m in height. The trunk may be divided into several main upright limbs, these in turn can be divided into many small branches that form a rounded crown.
The leaves are up to 10 cm wide, divided into 3 to 5 lobes and have a typical maple leaf shape. They are coarsely toothed, dark green on top and grayish green underneath, turning a bright red, orange or yellow in the fall.
The fruit consists of a cluster of winged seeds, joined in pairs at a sharp angle in a V-shape. The seed wings are about 2.5 cm long, the seeds are strongly indented.
The Bark is generally thin, smooth, dark reddish brown but rougher on larger branches and old trunks.
The douglas maple is widespread at low to mid elevations throughout most of southern British Columbia and all of Vancouver Island, but not on the Queen Charlotte Islands or northern British Columbia. Douglas maple grows on well drained but wet sites and sometimes in avalanche areas. It inhabits clearings and open forests. It is one of the trees that stabilize slide areas.
First peoples in the Interior had many uses for douglas maple. The wood is tough, yet pliable, and they used it for such items as snowshoe frames, saddle frames and bows. They soaked the green wood in water to soften it and heated it, then it could be bent it into any shape. The Thompson people used the stringy inner bark to make twine, the Shuswap people used it for rope, and the Nisga’a made mats from it.