Habit: grows as a medium sized tree with a single trunk and large rounded crown reaching 50 ft (15m), or as a multi stemmed shrub reaching 26 ft (8m), its form is dependent on moisture and growing conditions. The bark is smooth, gray-brown, fairly thin, developing numerous shallow furrows with age. The dark green leaves are broad, with 3-5 lobes having widely spaced blunt teeth. The leaves turn golden yellow to red in fall. Flowers are small, yellowish, and found in hanging clusters that appear in early spring. Bigtooth maple usually flowers every 2-3 years in response to moisture and climatic changes. Fruit is a samara, characteristic of the maple family.
Ecology: most often located on cool, moist sites in canyons, ravines, along mountain streams, primarily at higher elevations, 4500-7500 ft (1350-2300 m). A small multi-stemmed shrub on dry sites and more tree like on moist, cool locations.
Growing Conditions: full sun to part shade, preferring well-drained moist soil. It is cold hardy, shade and drought tolerant.
Bigtooth maple provides nesting habitat and cover for a variety of wildlife species in canyon bottoms, and along riparian zones. It is closely related to the eastern sugar maple, the sap can be used to make syrup.