There are over 100 species of maples across Asia, North America, Africa, and Europe. Maple trees are classified in the Acer genus and in the Aceraceae family. For the most part, maple species are deciduous trees, meaning they shed their leaves in the fall before regrowth in the spring. Different maple species can vary significantly in size, color, growth rate, and shape.
One way that maple trees are categorized is by hard and soft maples. Hard maples take a long time to mature, but they are sturdier and produce wood that is more valuable to the lumber industry. Hard maples like sugar and black maples are also the species that produce the high quality maple syrup that is often associated with maples.
Soft maples grow very quickly, which makes them a great choice for filling in landscaping in a short period of time. However, the softness of the wood can make them a hazard to their surroundings as they can break easily.
How to Identify a Maple Tree
Maple leaves are known for having a star-like shape.
Each maple leaf either has three, five, or seven distinguishable lobes, depending on the maple species, with veins originating from the center point on the leaf. Maple leaves can vary in texture, lobe numbers and deepness, and edge roughness. The leaves are typically four inches or less in size and are arranged in opposite formation, meaning there is a pair of maple leaves at each node along branches.
The bark texture varies across all maple species as well.
Sugar maple bark appears in vertical sections that are gary to brown in color and curl up at the ends. Norway and silver maples are more narrow, scaly, and gray.
SHAPE AND GROWTH
Hard maples grow very slowly whereas soft maples grow rapidly.
Maple height can be drastically different depending on the species. For example, Japanese maples tend to stop growing around eight feet tall, but sugar maples can grow to be more than 100 feet in height.
TRUNK AND ROOTS
A lot of maples are known for their shallow roots that can wreak havoc on nearby foundation, sidewalks, septic systems, etc.
Various Maple Species
Here are a few of the over 100 species of maple trees found across the globe:
(Acer rubrum) A soft maple, the red maple can range between 40 and 100 feet in height. Red maples are gorgeous trees in the fall as they often appear in vibrant shades of red, orange, or yellow. Red maples should be planted far away from home foundations.
(Acer negundo) Boxelders are very common across the midwest of North America. It is a soft maple that grows quickly, but it is brittle and does not hold up well in bad weather.
(Acer griseum) These maple trees have a very distinct copper-colored bark that peels away. Paperbark maples do not hold up well in a drought and should be planted in full sun or partial shade.
(Acer saccharinum) The silver maple gets its name from the underside of its leaves, which have a soft white, silvery color coating. Silver maples are soft trees with shallow roots that can damage nearby pavement and structures. They are tolerant of flood conditions.
(Acer platonoides) Norway maples are resilient trees that are great for planting near city streets and in any weather conditions. They do well in full sun or partial shade and can grow up to 50 feet in height. However, do not plant a Norway maple tree near a sidewalk or home foundation as its roots could disrupt them.
BIG LEAF MAPLE
(Acer macrophyllum) Sometimes referred to as broadleaf maple or Oregon maple, the big leaf maple is found across western regions of the United States. Their leaves can be over one foot wide, which makes them the biggest leaves of any other maple species.
(Acer saccharum) Sugar maples are hard maples that can grow up to 80 or even 100 feet tall. They produce delicious maple syrup. In the spring, yellow flowers bloom on these trees. In the fall, the leaves turn into beautiful bright colors.
(Acer palmatum) Some Japanese maples stop growing around eight feet, but they can grow up to 50 feet tall.
(Acer campestre) Hedge maples, sometimes referred to as field maples, hold up well in drought and salty conditions. They are commonly found in Europe and Asia. Hedge maples turn a beautiful shade of yellow in the fall.
Creatures Found in and Around Maples
Many insects and creatures feed on various parts of maple trees, including its seeds, leaves, bark, twigs, and buds. They also provide a great place for birds to nest. Here are some of the creatures you can find near a maple tree:
- White-Tailed Deer
- Flying Squirrels
- Honey Bees
One way that a maple wilt infection can spread is through the groundwater, which moves the disease from tree to tree.
Although less common, another way that maple wilt can be introduced into a new tree is through infected pruning equipment. Properly sanitizing all pruning and cutting tools is extremely important before creating any new wounds or vulnerable infection entry points.
Identifying Maple Wilt
The maple wilt infection creates a blockage in the maple’s vascular system, leaving the tree unable to properly distribute water and nutrients to itself. Drought conditions only add to this strain and will cause an infected tree to die much more quickly. Here are some ways that you can identify maple wilt:
Yellowing leaves followed by browning leaves randomly throughout the tree.
Green streaks under the bark of the tree.
Branches die one by one.
Fewer new leaves growing and when they do grow, they are stunted.
Preventing and Managing Maple Wilt:
Immediate removal of the infected tree to prevent spreading to nearby trees.
Pruning back any infected or dead branches could help prolong survival. Cut a few inches below the visible infection.
Take good care of the maple tree by watering regularly and every week giving it a deep root watering so that the water penetrates deeply and hydrates the whole tree.
Add a fertilizer with a nitrogen blend to strengthen the tree.
Regularly sanitize your pruning tools before and after use.
Other Dangers to Maple Trees
There are other diseases that affect maple trees. Below is more information on how to identify the most common of them.
Brownish marks near leaf veins
Loss of all of a trees
leaves well before fall
Large black spots on the leaves
Thinning of leaves
in certain areas
Brown spots appear
on the leaves
Spots may crumble
resulting in holes in
Uses for Maple Wood
Although soft maple is easier to work with since it has a lower density, hard maple is much more useful in lumber form as it is a sturdier and stronger wood. Hard maple sapwood is very light in color with a goldish hue.
- Bowling Pins
- Bowling Alley Lanes
- Basketball Court
- Dance Floors
- Pool Cues
- Butcher Blocks
- Some Baseball Bats
- Musical Instruments