Scientific name: Acer circinatum
Native American name: Nehalem
Plant family: Aceraceae,,
Description: The vine maple is a deciduous tree or shrub that grows between 3-10 meters high. The leaves are opposite and almost circular with 7-9 triangular lobes, which have single or double teeth. The leaves are green on top and paler green and fuzzy on the bottom. Small clusters of flowers emerge with leaves and turn into red fruit.
Habitat and Range:The vine maple’s habitat includes both riparian areas as well as Douglas fir forests since it prefers moist soil and shade.The vine maple grows on the west coast, west of the Cascade Mountains from northern California up to southern British Columbia.
Historical and Contemporary Uses
Natives on the west coast have used and may still use the stems of the vine maple to weave baskets. The baskets are used to store food as well as for baby carriers. The sap of the vine maple can be used as a syrup by boiling off the water since it contains sugar. Native Americans on the Pacific Northwest coast use the vine maple’s wood to make tools, such as eating utensils, ax handles, and frames for fishing nets.