The Rocky Mountain maple (Acer glabrum) is the only maple found in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is described as either a small, many stemmed tree or a large, many stemmed shrub with three to five lobed leaves. The flowers of the Rocky Mountain maple occur in the early spring when the new leaves are emerging. Most people never see the flowers, which are small and green, because they blend so well with the new leaves. The seeds are winged, as they are in all maples, and thus can fall some distance from the parent tree. Unlike their larger maple relatives in the Eastern U.S. that color the autumn forests red and orange, the Rocky Mountain maple leaves turn yellow in the fall. They have gray bark and red winter twigs and buds.
If you are visiting Rocky Mountain National Park or other locations where Rocky Mountain maple occurs and want to find one, try looking in rocky areas in the montain and lower subalpine areas. Rocky Mountain maples are interesting and lovely large shrubs and well worth a detailed look!