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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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