Maple leaf tree leaves


  • Sugar, Black, and Red maples are the trees that are important for maple syrup production.
  • In a balanced, healthy productive sugarbush an ideal number of maples would be approximately 70 per acre.
  • Maple trees can live to 200 years and beyond and have been tapped for 150 years or more.
  • The sugar maple has the highest sugar content in its sap of any of the maple species. It averages in the 2.0-2.5 range but can vary from tree to tree and from day to day even in the same sugarbush.
  • Maple trees should be a minimum of 10” in diameter for tapping. A tree of that size in a forest setting could be 50-60 yrs old.
  • “The oldest sugar maple in Canada is the “Comfort Tree” in North Pelham, Ontario (Niagara Region) and is estimated to be over 500 yrs. old with a trunk circumference of 20 ft. Robert Comfort acquired the property in North Pelham, Ontario where the tree stands, in 1816. When the family farm was sold in 1946 Earl Comfort and his sister Edna retained the land surrounding the tree. Edna believed that the tree marked an Indian burial ground and that it was visited regularly in pioneer times by groups of First Nations people. This theory is supported by the Indian artifacts found by farmers in and around North Pelham.” Mary Lamb, Archivist for Pelham Historical Society 2008.On April 30, 1961 the “Comfort Maple” was accepted for preservation by the Niagara Penninsula Conservation Authority. Edna donated the land to the Niagara Penninsula Conservation Authority in memory of her brother, Earl.

Maple tree is plant that belongs to the family Sapindaceae.

There are approximately 128 species of maple.

Most species are native to Asia, with a number also appearing in Europe, northern Africa, and North America. Only one species extends to the Southern Hemisphere.

These trees germinate best in cold weather that’s at least 1°C (34°F).

Maple trees grow in sandy or clayey soil types. As long as the texture stays loose and the soil depth allows the roots to anchor the tree to the site, the maple tree grows well. Unfavorable sites include swamps, dry sandy ridges and thin rocky soil.

Most species are deciduous, and many are renowned for their autumn leaf color, but a few in southern Asia and the Mediterranean region are evergreen.

The lifespan of a maple tree is between 100 and 400 years, depending on the species.

The Comfort Maple is an enormous and strangely shaped sugar maple tree which is believed to be at least 500 years old, the oldest maple tree in Canada.

Many of the root systems are typically dense and fibrous, inhibiting the growth of other vegetation underneath them.

Most maples are trees growing to 10–45 meters (33–148 feet) height. Others are shrubs less than 10 meters tall with a number of small trunks originating at ground level.

Maple tree usually has brown or gray bark that is smooth in young plants and rough in older plants.

Maples are distinguished by opposite leaf arrangement. Leaves are divided in 3 to 9 lobes (rarely to 13). The edges of the leaves are slightly serrated with varying sizes in teeth. Leaves change color from green to different shades of yellow, orange and red during the autumn.

Flowers of maple tree can be green, yellow, orange or red in color. It contain both male and female parts instead of separate female and male parts of individual trees. The flowers are quite small but when found in huge numbers in a tree can give amazingly colorful results. Some maples are an early spring source of pollen and nectar for bees.

The distinctive fruit are called samaras, “maple keys“, “helicopters“, “whirlybirds” or “polynoses“. These seeds occur in distinctive pairs each containing one seed enclosed in a “nutlet” attached to a flattened wing of fibrous, papery tissue. They are shaped to spin as they fall and to carry the seeds a considerable distance on the wind.

Many maples have bright autumn foliage, and many countries have leaf-watching traditions. In Japan, the custom of viewing the changing colour of maples in the autumn is called “momijigari”. The sugar maple are a contributor to seasonal fall tourism in North America.

Maples are a popular choice for the art of bonsai. Japanese maple, Trident maple, Amur maple, Field maple and Montpellier maple are popular choices and respond well to techniques that encourage leaf reduction and ramification, but most species can be used.

Sugar, Black, and Red maple trees are tapped for sap, which is then boiled to produce maple syrup or made into maple sugar or maple taffy. It takes about 40 litres (42 US qt) of sugar maple sap to make 1 litre (1.1 US qt) of syrup. While any of maple species may be tapped for syrup, many do not have sufficient quantities of sugar to be commercially useful.

Maple syrup was first recorded as being produced in 1540 by Native Americans using the sugar maple’s sap.

A maple leaf is on the coat of arms of Canada, and is on the Canadian flag. The maple is a common symbol of strength and endurance and has been chosen as the national tree of Canada. Maple leaves are traditionally an important part of Canadian Forces military regalia, for example the military rank insignia for generals use maple leaf symbols.

Maple is considered a tonewood, or a wood that carries sound waves well, and is used in numerous musical instruments. The back, sides, and neck of most violins, violas, cellos, and double basses are made from maple. Electric guitar necks are commonly made from maple, having good dimensional stability. Many drums are made from maple.

Different types of furniture, baseball bats, bowling pins, bowling alley lanes, pool cue shafts and butcher’s blocks are often made of maple trees.

Maple tree is also used in the paper industry. Paper made of maple tree has excellent printing properties.

Dried wood is often used for the smoking of food.

The oldest fossil of a maple dates to 100 million years ago in Alaska.

Seriously Awesome Facts About the Maple Tree

Maples are common names for the trees under the genus Acer. The maple tree leaf has been adapted as the national arboreal emblem of Canada. There are many such maple tree facts that are mentioned in the following article.

Maple trees are commonly found in gardens and their sap on our dining tables, in form of Maple syrup. Maples are trees under the genus Acer, classified into the family Aceraceae. There are over 125 species of Acer trees, found in Asia, Europe, north Africa and north America. Maples are deciduous trees that grow up to 10-45 meters in height. Many maple species have a dense and fibrous root system. The Maple tree branches spread horizontally and form a compact rounded head when fully grown. The young Maple trees have a smooth bark that becomes brown, rough and corky as they grow older. There are longitudinal furrows on their barks and crimson stalks of young leaves on their branches.

This angiosperm has clusters of erect flowers, a distinguishing feature that appears with the leaves. The leaves are small and have 5 blunt lobes. The leaves turn to a golden hue during autumn. The maples produce winged seed pods, that are dispersed in autumn. These winged seeds reach the ground in a helicopter like movement. The pods stand horizontally when still attached to the tree. Small brown buds are developed in winter, on the maple trees. The following is the scientific classification of Maple trees.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom Plantae
Class Magnoliopsida
Order Sapindales
Family Aceraceae
Genus Acer
Species A. campestre
Binomial name Acer campestre

Facts About Maple Tree

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Maple trees are the most common trees found in the United States. These tress are found growing in the Northern Temperate Zone.

The word Acer is a Latin word that means ‘sharp’. This is in reference to the characteristically sharp leaves of Maple trees. Maple tree flowers have the ability to self-pollinate. Many clusters can even pollinate themselves. The other common form of pollination is wind. Cross-pollination can take place with the help of flies and other insects. Small fruits are developed after pollination, that turn into winged seeds. There are two small seeds joined together by a weak link and with two thin, paper like wings on each side. There are three principle veins radiating at the base of the leaf in all Maple trees. The lobes of many Maple trees are shaped according to the veins. There is one smaller lobe on either side of the long slender stem and is bright crimson in color when young.

The best sap is produced by sugar maple and rock maple. The most important factor in the production of the final maple syrup product, is the weather. The night temperatures should drop below freezing point, though temperatures around mid 20° C are also conducive for maple trees. The day temperature should be around 40° C, so that the sap can run easily. Cloud cover slows the sap running and snow covering on the ground prevents budding, thus prolonging the sugar season. Maple trees need to be at least 30-year-old, to be tapped for their sap. About ten gallons of sap is produced per season, from a 40-year-old tree. One gallon of maple syrup is produced from 30-50 gallons of sap. The Native Americans call Maple syrup as ‘sweetwater’. The tree is not harmed in any way when tapping the syrup, as only 10% of the sap is harvested from the total tree production of sap.

The bark of Maple trees have astringent properties and are used to treat sore eyes. Cramps and dysentery can be treated with the help of an infusion of the bark. The inner bark when brewed into a tea, can be used to treat diarrhea and cough. The obstructions of the liver and spleen are cleared with the help of a decoction prepared from the leaves or barks of Maple trees. Maple syrup is known as a health food and is used as a substitute for sugar. The wood is used as a fuel and is turned into charcoal commercially. The young shoots are used as whips in France, as they are flexible and tough. The wood of the roots is knotted and used for small cabinet-work. The maple syrup is boiled further to make maple syrup and translucent candies.

Maple Tree Varieties

There are hundreds of Maple tree varieties, of which the ones mentioned below are the most commonly known types of Maple trees.

Japanese Maple Tree Varieties

The Japanese Maple Tree

Acer palmatum is the biological name of the Japanese Maple trees. This tree is commonly found in Japan and North America. There are over 800 to 1000 different known to exist varieties of this species. This is a favorite tree for Bonsai trees growers. The colors of Japanese Maple trees range from light to dark green and they are also found in every shade of red. They can be light, bright, medium, burgundy and blackish red. You may also find several leaves in the shade of purple. The Japanese Maple tree needs fertile soil, with a little moisture to grow well. ‘Fireglow’ and ‘Emperor One’ are the common varieties that are grown for their fiery, dark red leaves, that look absolutely stunning in the evening light of the sunset. “Corollonium’ is another remarkable variety that has orange pink spring leaf color. This sturdy tree is rarely damaged by pests and is less prone to maple tree diseases. It can grow in a different types of environment.

The Red Maple Tree

Acer rubrum or red maple is the most common tree with beautiful, bright scarlet leaves, is found all over the east coast of America. It is found growing in Manitoba and Newfoundland to Florida and even as far as East Texas. The red Maple tree can grow in different types of soil and can even grow on mountains with an elevation up to 6,000 feet. The red Maple is the first to flower in spring and has a short lifespan of only 150 years. These trees reach maturity only after 70 to 80 years of its life. The soft wood is used to make low-cost wood furniture and in wooden crafts. The sap is tapped to harvest small quantities of sap. This shady tree is a source of food for white tail deer and elk. Red Maple is a fast growing tree and is susceptible to many pests and diseases. The gall making maple borer, maple callus borer and the Colombian timber beetle are the worst pests to affect the Red Maple tree. The scaling insects, like the cottony maple scale, the maple leaf scale and the oystershell scale also infest the Red Maple. The gypsy moth, the Liden looper, elm spanworm and the red maple spanworm are known to feed on the Red Maple. These trees can be grown on the front and back lawn and will always prove to be a delightful sight, with their brilliantly colored leaves in fall.

Sugar Maple

Acer saccharum, commonly known as sugar maple, is found in Nova Sotia to Ontario, Georgia and Texas. It cam reach a height of 82 to 115 feet. This variety of Maple tree is known for its bright yellow or orange to fluorescent red-orange leaves in fall. These trees also have the tendency to color unevenly during fall. Sugar Maple is easily identified by its clear sap found in the leaf petiole. It is a shade-tolerant tree and can germinate as an understory plant. It can be grown in any type of soil, with the exception of sand. This tree is most commonly used as a source of maple syrup.

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These are a few Maple tree facts that distinguish these trees from other deciduous trees. Maple syrup is used as toppings for pancakes, waffles, French toast, etc. Maples are the gems of a garden as their colorful leaves always brighten up their surroundings. Luckily, maple tree planting is as easy as taking care of and pruning maple trees. The next time you come across a Maple tree, take time to observe it and soak in the beauty of these cheerful, sweet sap trees.

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How To Identify Maple Trees: Facts About Maple Tree Types

From the little 8-foot Japanese maple to the towering sugar maple that can reach heights of 100 feet or more, the Acer family offers a tree just the right size for every situation. Find out about some of the most popular maple tree varieties in this article.

Types of Acer Maple Trees

Maple trees are members of the genus Acer, which includes a lot of variety in size, shape, color and growth habit. With all of the variations, it’s hard to pinpoint a few obvious features that make a tree a maple. To make maple tree identification a little easier, let’s begin by dividing them into two main groups: Hard and soft maples.

One distinction between the two maple tree types is the rate of growth. Hard maples grow very slowly and live a long time. These trees are important to the lumber industry and include black maples and sugar maples, known for their superior quality syrup.

All maples have leaves divided into three, five or seven lobes. The lobes on some maples are mere indentations in the leaves, while others have lobes so deeply divided that a single leaf can look like a cluster of individual, thin leaves. Hard maples usually have leaves with moderate indentations. They are dull green on top and a lighter color underneath.

Soft maples include a wide variety of trees, such as red and silver maples. Their rapid growth results in a soft wood. Landscapers use these trees to get quick results, but they may become a problem in the landscape as they age. Quick growth results in brittle branches that break and fall easily, often causing property damage. They are subject to wood rot, and landowners have to pay the high cost of tree removal or risk collapse.

Another thing that all maples have in common is their fruit, called samaras. They are essentially winged seeds that twirl to the ground when ripe, much to the delight of children who get caught in a shower of “whirlybirds.”

How to Identify Maple Trees

Here are a few distinguishing characteristics of some of the more common types of Acer maple trees:

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

  • Highly ornamental trees, Japanese maples may only grow to 6 to 8 feet in cultivation but can reach heights of 40 to 50 feet in the wild
  • Brilliant fall color
  • The trees are often wider than they are tall

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

  • Heights of 40 to 60 feet with a width of 25 to 35 feet in cultivation but may reach over 100 feet in the wild
  • Bright red, yellow and orange fall color
  • Red flowers and fruit

Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

  • These trees grow 50 to 70 feet tall with canopies that are 35 to 50 feet wide
  • The dark green leaves are silvery underneath, and they appear to glimmer in the wind
  • Their shallow roots buckle sidewalks and foundations, making it nearly impossible to grow grass under the canopy

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

  • This large tree grows 50 to 80 feet tall with a dense canopy that spreads 35 to 50 feet wide
  • Attractive, pale yellow flowers bloom in spring
  • Brilliant fall color with many shades on the tree at the same time

Types of Maple Trees

Fall is upon us and nothing screams fall in Georgia more than driving north into the mountains to see the changing of the Maple leaves and going to Burt’s pumpkin patch to find that perfect pumpkin. It would be great to enjoy the changing of the leaves in your own yard without doing all the driving.

With so many types of maples out there, it’s tough to decide which one would be perfect for your landscape. They come in all different sizes and shapes, so no matter what the application, there is a maple for every place in your landscape.

Are you looking for something small for the front of the house? Perhaps it’s the slow growing Laceleaf Japanese Maple you seek! Do you need to throw up a fast growing windscreen or privacy screen? Maybe an Autumn Blaze Maple would be more suitable.

Let’s look at some different types of Maples and find the perfect one for you.

Paperbark Maple

This trees brilliant copper to cinnamon brown colored exfoliating bark and beautiful red-orange fall foliage puts this tree in everyone’s must have list. Only about 5 % of the seeds from this tree are viable for planting. This tree does not tolerate drought well and goes well by a seating area or a water feature. Only growing 6 to 12 inches a year, puts this tree in the slow grower category.

Red Maple

This is a great shade tree and one of the bigger ones on the list, getting up to 75 feet tall. It is great at producing shade and has amazing fall colors. Varieties like Autumn Blaze or October Glory are guaranteed to put on quite a show. This tree is a quick grower and does not get the dead wood in it like the silver maple does. This tree made it onto the Top 10 Landscape trees list. Silver maple, Red maple, Black maple and Sugar maples can all be tapped for maple syrup as well.

Silver Maple

Silver maples are named for the silver color on the back of their deeply lobed leaves. This is one of the fastest growing maple trees but one of the least popular of the maples for a couple reasons. Silver maples, at a young age, get dead branches in it that can litter the landscape. Silver maples can deal with flooding and sitting in flood waters for extended periods of time, therefore being a good candidate for lowlands or flood plains.

Maple trees are known for their brilliant fall color. The silver maple is no exception. The foliage of a silver maple will turn a brilliant yellow or orange color. Since all maple trees are known for their brilliant colors, they will even cross breed trees like silver maples with red maples to come up with new trees with different brilliant colors like the Autumn Blaze Maple. Silver maple, Red maple, Black maple and Sugar maples can all be tapped for maple syrup as well.

Sugar Maple

This tree is renowned for its production of maple syrup and its brilliant fall color. This tree is a great road tree as long as there is no road salt in the area. This tree has a massive canopy, therefore it is recommended that you don’t put it right in front of the house. This trees ability to tolerate heavy shade also gives you plenty of options for placement. This tree is certainly not the fastest grower of the maple trees.

Our neighbors up north, Canada, have use the maple leaf as the symbol of Canada. In 1965, the Canadian Prime Minister, put the maple leaf on their flag.The Maple leaf has been on Canadian coins since 1876 and because Canada is covered in sugar maples, they are the world leader in maple syrup production.

Black Maple

Being a sub-species of sugar maple, this tree is renowned for its production of maple syrup and its brilliant fall color. This tree is typically found on slopes and ravines or along streams and dense woods. This tree has a massive canopy, therefore it is recommended that you don’t put it right in front of the house. This tree has darker bark and leaves than the sugar maple and 3 lobes on the leaf rather than sugar maples 5 lobes . This tree is certainly not as quick of a grower as the Red Maple but makes up for it with its fall color which creates some towns economies with their “tree gazing” in the fall.

Trident Maple

This beautiful 3 lobed leaf tree grows much like a Japanese maple in shape. Because of its slow growth, it is highly under appreciated. These trees exfoliating bark (on mature trees) and brilliant fall color are just 2 of the things that make this tree so great. It is very adaptable to different soil types and popular as a bonsai plant. Its flowers are rather nondescript.

Amur Maple

This tree is very adaptable and can tolerate harsh climates well. This tree grows similar in size to a Japanese maple and is known for its brilliant red and orange colors in the fall. It has heavy serrated leaves and 3 lobes when mature. Its flowers are showier than many other maples and it produces abundant seed heads (sumaras). This tree makes a great specimen tree or a good street tree. It will be found on many invasive species lists, due to its profuse dispersal of its winged sumaras.

Laceleaf Japanese Maple

With so many color and texture options available with these trees, the possibilities are endless. Japanese maples are known for their beautiful colors and textures. They are a slow to moderate growing, medium sized deciduous tree that will become the primary focal point in any landscape. The lace leaf Japanese maple (dissectum etropurpureum) is also a brilliant, lower growing option, for smaller spaces. Lace leaf is a much slower grower. Some of the more popular cultivars include Inaba shidare and Crimson Queen.

Japanese Maple

With so many color and texture options available with these trees, the possibilities are endless. Japanese maples are known for their beautiful colors and textures. They are a slow to moderate growing, medium sized deciduous tree that will become the primary focal point in any landscape. Some of the more popular cultivars include: Shaina, Beni shichihenge, Suminagashi, Oshi Beni, Coonara Pygmy and Emperor I.

The lace leaf Japanese maple (dissectum atropurpureum) is also a brilliant, lower growing option, for smaller spaces. Lace leaf is a much slower grower. This tree made it onto the Top 10 Landscape trees list. Here is another list of Different Types of Japanese Maples.

Autumn Blaze Maple

This tree has the best of both worlds, as it is a cross between the sturdy, attractive red maple and the adaptable, fast growing silver maple. This tree is a very fast growing tree that has great disease resistance and brilliant fall color. This tree is held in high regard in commercial complexes for not littering parking lots with winged seed heads. This cross breeding occurs in a controlled environment at the nursery but also in the wild, when silver maples pollen fertilizes a red maple.

Norway Maple

Norway maple is known as the street tree that was used in place of the American elm tree after Dutch elm disease wiped them out. Looking similar to a Sugar maple, Norway maple has a similar darker green leaf and similar growth habits. Norway’s yellow fall foliage is not as brilliant as the Oranges of that of the Sugar maple. This tree is best distinguished from a sugar maple because of the white milky substance excreted when leaves are broken off from stem of the Norway.

This trees ability to choke out and shade native species with its dense canopy have put this tree on many invasive species lists. Its ability to reseed in that shade successfully is another reason for concern, as it can take over a forest, diminishing plant diversity. Seed heads are flat, double winged sumaras. Red Maple and Sugar Maples would be a good, non-invasive substitute for this tree.

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How To Tap a Tree For Maple Syrup

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Different Types of Japanese Maples

5 Easy Steps To Identify A Maple Tree

There is more than a hundred different species of maple trees in the world. Most maple tree species are indigenous to Asia but can also be found in Europe, North America and Africa. The maple family is referred to as Acer and the words has its roots in Latin which means “sharp” due to the distinctive points of the maple leaf. Maple trees are renowned not only for being featured on the Canadian flag, producing vast quantity of delicious maple syrup or making great guitar and baseball bats but also for their appearance and their quality to transform and enchant a landscape.

Just follow these steps to help you identify your maple tree and its type:

  1. Is it a maple tree?

    If you happen to be in spring, try spotting some samaras on your tree. These fruits are a distinctive sign of a maple tree. The distinctive shape of the samara allows it to be carried far away from the tree when falling down and providing the tree with a wider dispersion area for his seeds. They have a V-shaped form with wings on both sides with seed pods in the middle.
    Another clear sign to identify a maple tree is its maple leaf. They are discernable by their opposite leaf arrangement and their veined and lobed. A typical maple tree leave has 3 to 9 veins in each leading to a lobe.

  2. Species

    Once you have established you tree is part of the Acer family, you need to identify the right specie. The 3 most popular type of maple trees are Maple Sugar, Red maple and Japanese Maple. To do this, begin by counting lobes of leaves. Maple sugar, red maple have typically 5 lobes and Japanese maple between 5 to 7 lobes.

  3. Red Maple Tree

    If your tree shows clear sign of showy red flowers between January and March, you can mark it down as a red maple tree. Further sign would be drooping branches on bigger trees and bright vivid red leaves during fall. The undersides of leaves can sometime be slightly whitish. The leave edges are toothed or serrated like a little saw. Red maple trees usually prefer wet soil or mildly drained soil. Red Maple produce sap in great quantity, lucky you!

  4. Maple Sugar Tree

    If your tree shows a smooth gray bark and pronounced dark green leaves with toothed border, you probably have your hand on a maple sugar tree, even better than the red maple to produce maple syrup. Leaves changing color in fall to red, orange and bright yellow are another tip for maple sugar tree. Also look for round to ovular shapes in the adult tree form. Maple Sugar tree tends to favor well-drained soil environments.

  5. Japanese Maple Tree

    A maple tree with purple to reddish leaves during spring is a strong signal for a Japanese maple. A rounder form rather than tall will strengthen your case for a Japanese maple tree. Japanese maple tree also have delicate toothed long lobes on leaves on horizontal branches. Just like the Sugar Maple tree, the Japanese maple loves well-drained soil. Did you know that Japanese maple tree are quite often a popular choice for the art of Bonzai?

Image source: Wikipedia

With over a hundred species and nearly as many subspecies, maple tree identification can be tricky. Add in the countless cultivars available and differing growth habit due to site conditions, and the task can seem downright impossible. Fortunately, it is not as hard as you might think. Simply focus on a few key features to narrow down your options, and identifying what sort of maple tree you have is no problem at all.

Basic Maple Tree Identification

Of the many species of maple existing worldwide, only about 13 are native to North America. Some non-native species, such as the Japanese maple, are cultivated as ornamentals. While a dizzying array of varieties are usually available at your local nursery, most come from a few basic stock species. These are:

Sugar Maple (Acer Saccharun)

Red Maple (Acer Rubrum)

Silver Maple (Acer Saccharinum)

Box Elder (Acer Negundo)

Norway Maple (Acer Platanoides)

Japanese Maple (Acer Palmatum)

Paperbark Maple (Acer Griseum)

To determine which of these species is growing in your yard or sitting in a nursery waiting for you to take it home, think like a botanist. The characteristics most likely to attract your attention, such as size or leaf color, are not always reliable indicators of species. While some species are known for outstanding autumn foliage, leaf color often varies from year to year. Similarly, external factors such as soil quality and sun exposure can influence the growth habits of your maple. Instead, look at reliable indicators for accurate maple tree identification like leaf shape and bark.

Leaf Shape

You may already be familiar with the distinctive leaf shape associated with most members of the genus Acer. Most maple species have simple, as opposed to compound, leaves with multiple lobes, the veins of which originate from a single, roughly central point on the leaf. Looking more closely at the details of the leaf will give you a better idea what sort of maple you have:

  • Compound leaves: While the majority of maple species have simple leaves, two notable exceptions, the box elder and the paperbark maple, have compound leaves, with three to five leaflets per leaf stock. You will be able to easily distinguish between these two species by looking at the bark, detailed below.
  • Very deeply-lobed leaves: The Japanese maple is known for very distinct lobing of the leaves, so much so that they almost appear to be compound leaves. However, you will note all lobes of this leaf still originate from a single point on the leaf stock and have no stems of their own. There is some variation between cultivars of this tree, but most possess this feature to a greater or lesser degree.
  • Large, 5-lobed leaf: Both the sugar maple and the Norway maple have this characteristic, with the sugar maple leaf having a few large teeth and rounded spaces between the lobes. The easiest way to tell these species apart using the leaves is to break a leaf off the twig. A leaf from a Norway maple will yield a milky sap from the end of the leaf, while the sugar maple will not.
  • Fuzzy: If your maple tree has a soft white coating on the underside of the leaf, it is almost certainly a silver maple.
  • Roughly toothed: The red maple has a slightly smaller leaf than most other species, with its most distinctive feature being a rough, saw-like edge. If the leaf margin, or edge, of your maple’s leaves appear serrated, it is probably a red maple.

In most cases, the leaves will be enough to help you determine what kind of maple you have. If you are in doubt, look at the bark of the tree to make a positive identification.

Distinctive Bark

If you are trying to identify a maple tree during winter, the leaves can be a less reliable feature. While at first you may think all bark looks the same, there are a few key traits associated with certain species that can aid in maple identification:

  • Smooth, red and papery: The paperbark maple has been relatively uncommon until quite recently, but is gaining momentum as more people become familiar with this Chinese import. A compound leaf combined with striking, papery bark means you probably have one of these beauties.
  • Wide, irregular strips: The sugar maple has dark grayish-brown bark with wide, vertical strips that curl outward at the edges.
  • Narrow, scaly ridges: Norway maple, box elder and red maple share this feature. Red maple’s bark is normally dark brown, whereas box elder and Norway maple bark is more grayish.
  • Grayish, scaly, and flaky: Most likely a silver maple. Look to leaves for a positive identification.

Hybrid Identification

When you have a naturally-occurring maple species, identification is fairly straightforward. When you are dealing with hybrid cultivars, determining what kind of tree you have can be more difficult. For example, the autumn blaze maple tree is a hybrid of a red maple and a silver maple, and will have characteristics of each parent. Looking at the leaf and bark will usually give you a good indication of at least part of the parent stock, from which you can consult other resources for more precise plant identification.

Enjoy Your Maple Tree

Accurate maple tree identification can sometimes be an issue if you are concerned about the health and care of your tree, but most maples normally are subject to similar pests and diseases, and most require similar care. Whatever kind of maple you have, you can be sure you have a beautiful, sturdy tree that will give you years of enjoyment as a shade tree, ornamental, or conversation piece.

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