Habit: multi-stemmed shrub that is broadly spreading with twisted vine like branches that arch and droop to the ground eventually rooting to form a thicket. In sunnier conditions it is often found as a single-stemmed small tree. Its bark is smooth and green becoming reddish brown with age. In April, before the leaves appear, flowers of red and white form along the branches and are followed by reddish winged fruit, samara. The soft green foliage is typical of maple with symmetrically lobed and toothed leaves that are a sometimes tinged with red in spring and summer. In fall leaves become golden in the shade and bright red in sunny open locations.
Ecology: vine maples flourish in moist soil conditions, particularly along shaded stream edges, as an understory tree in coniferous forests, or at the woodland edge. It is common in forests west of the Cascade Mountains from sea level to 2500 ft (750 m).
Growing Conditions: prefers shade, can tolerate sun. They thrive in a wide range of soil types from moist, and well draining, to dry and rocky but prefer acidic soil, rich in organic matter. Vine maples once established, are quite tolerant of dry summers.
Acer circinatum is an important species for wildlife, providing food, nesting sites and cover for many birds and mammals.