Acer & Maple Trees – All the Facts That You Need to Know

Maple trees are the source of the yummy, sweet treat of maple syrup. In fact, many people tap these trees for the sticky sap to create this breakfast staple. The leaf of the maple tree is very distinct and well-known.

One of the most widely recognized use of the maple leaf is on the Canadian flag. However, the surprising thing is most maple species actually grow on the Asian Continent. There is only one species that grows across the equator.

Overall, maple trees vary in size greatly. Some stand close to 30 feet, while others reach towering heights of 200 feet. In autumn, the leaves change to a stunning orange-red color. Although, there are a few species in Asia that are evergreen and do not change colors or lose their leaves.

Maple trees produce the “whirlybird” seeds called samaras. Between the leaves and the samaras, it is easy to distinguish a maple tree from others. All in all, the maple tree is a beautiful addition to your landscape or garden. They start easily from seeds, saplings, and cuttings.

So How Many Kinds of Acer & Maple trees are there?

There are approximately 160 species of maple trees. The genus of the maple tree is called Acer. Also, the genus is part of the Sapindaceae family. While characteristics of the Acer genus are standard, there are exceptions in particular species.

The Acer negundo is the only species without the classic maple leaf shaped leaves. Additionally, the Acer laurinum is the only species to grow in both hemispheres.

Overall, the genus is divided into over 25 Sections. These 25 Sections scientific are:

  • Section Acer
  • Section Alaskana
  • Section Arguta
  • Section Douglasa
  • Section Ginnala
  • Section Glabra
  • Section Indivisa
  • Section Lithocarpa
  • Section Marcrantha
  • Section Macrophylla
  • Section Negundo
  • Section Palmata
  • Section Parviflora
  • Section Pentaphylla
  • Section Platanoidea
  • Section Pubescentia
  • Section Republica
  • Section Rousea
  • Section Rubra
  • Section Spicata
  • Section Stewarta
  • Section Spitza
  • Section Torada
  • Section Trioliata
  • Section Wardiana

Within these Sections are many popular species loved around the world. In fact, some of these species are:

  • Deep-veined maple (Acer argutum)
  • Amur maple (Acer ginnala)
  • Douglas maple (Acer glabrum)
  • Oregon maple (Acer macrophyllum)
  • Broad maple (Acer amplum)
  • Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)

How Large do Acer & Maple Trees Grow?

Maple trees grow to medium size. In fact, they grow to heights between 40 to 75 feet in height. The spread is vast, often stretching to 50 feet wide. Altogether, the canopy is large and full.

There are instances of sugar maples growing to 100 feet.

Normally, they grow at an average rate of 12 to 24 inches per year. Although, the tallest maple in North America, the bigleaf maple, grows between 3 and 6 feet per year. 

What Does an Acer & Maple Tree Look Like?

Maple trees grow with full canopies. Also, these canopies are full of dark green lobed leaves. Dependent on the tree species, the leaves change to a rainbow of colors from a dark red to a lighter red, yellow, and orange in autumn. Ultimately, the leaves grow with five serrated lobes.

The bark is thick and furrowed. Overall, it holds a dark brown color. It grows in wide strips that run vertically.

Likely, besides the leaves, the seeds of the maple tree are very recognizable. The seeds are winged and look like helicopters.

Maple Seed

 Many times, we refer to them as whirly birds.

Where Can I Find an Acer or Maple Tree?

In North America, you will find maple trees in almost all the states of the United States and in Canada. Altogether, they grow in the southern states of Texas and Florida and all the way in the northern states of Michigan and Minnesota.

However, maple trees prefer colder weather and so you will find them highly concentrated in the Northeast and Canada.

The most widely found maple tree in Europe is the Norway maple. In fact, you will find it ranging from Greece to the Pyrenees. Additionally, the field maple grows in the United Kingdom and is the only native maple in the United Kingdom.

Most of the species in the Acer genus are native to the Asian continent. Notably, maple trees grow in Japan, China, Korea, and Russia.

How Long Can an Acer or Maple Tree Live?

Lifespans of maples are not consistent across species. Sugar maples live over 400 years while the silver maple which lives a shorter life. All in all, the silver maple only lives 100 years.

You can tap maple trees for sap for decades. The tree will heal in the off seasons from any tap wounds and will not endanger the tree.

Can I Grow an Acer or Maple Tree?

Maple trees grow just about anywhere in the world. You may add this tree for the shade it produces or for the beautiful autumn colors.

Maple trees start easily from cuttings, plus this is a free method to start a maple tree. Also, cuttings will need to be at least 4 inches long. Place the lower 2 inches into a pot of soil with rooting nutrients. Moisture is key with your cuttings. Top your pot with a plastic bag to retain moisture.

It is possible to start your maple from seeds. You will want to plant them in moist soil in a plastic bag and refrigerate for 2 months. Give them a sunny pot and moist soil for the next few weeks before transferring outside.

It is best to plant your young maple in the fall. All in all, it will demand full sun, but can survive in partial shade.

It is Time to BRANCH out into some fun tree facts.

  • The silver maple grows on average between 6 and 7 feet per year.
  • 4.24 million gallons of maple syrup was produced in 2019.
  • Maple trees can be used to make whiskey.

What Are Some Uses For Acer or Maple Trees?

Natural Uses

Many plant maple trees just for their beauty. However, these trees have applications as food and medicine.

We grow maple trees commercially and personally for the sap. In the northeast of the United States and across Canada, thousands of maple trees are tapped in the late winter.

To be sure, maple syrup is a wonderful sweetener for all kinds of meals. The most common application of maple syrup is part of our breakfast.

Maple trees provide properties like antioxidants and anti-inflammatory characteristics. Scientists use maple trees to create many medicines. Moreover, these medicines treat eye diseases, pain, and rheumatism.

In some Asian cultures, the leaves are deep fried for a delicious treat.

Artistic Uses

The maple tree adds a wonderful and unique pop of color in the autumn. Sometimes, this alone is good enough reason to add the maple tree to your yard or garden.

Artists add the maple tree to many landscapes for its colors. Likewise, Canada boasts its love of the maple tree in many applications. The leaf is even on the national flag.

For many cultures, the maple tree holds special meaning. It represents the balance of love and abundance. Oftentimes, it represents generosity and practicality. 

Residential/Commercial Uses

Unique to the maple tree, woodworkers typically seek the heartwood for premium wood, but the maple tree grows superior sapwood as well.

Equally important, maple wood changes color over time. Oxygen darkens the light sapwood.

The wood from the maple tree is strong and beautiful. It holds a light color and a smooth grain. Additionally, it is very durable. Furniture carpenters love maple for all these qualities.

While American use the sugar and red maples for sap, they also use the wood for woodworking. The Northeast is covered in sugar maples which makes them easy sources for wood.

We use maple wood for flooring, cabinetry, and high-end furniture. It is both durable and strong. Also, many bowling alleys use the maple wood for alley ways. Even baseball bats are crafted from maple though ash has largely replaced them at this time.

Wrap Up

The maple tree is a stunning tower of leaves on the landscape. It creates a beautiful bright star as autumn passes through.

Likely, the most common use for maple trees is for the sap. Maple syrup is a favorite for many families, especially at breakfast time.

The Canadians take great pride in their maple trees. Furthermore, these trees grow in vast quantities across the United States, Canada, many parts of Europe, and most of Asia.

Carpenters highly search for the wood for furniture applications because of its durability, strength, and light color. Additionally, we use it for floors from our homes and even in bowling alleys. They are easy to grow, and you can even start them by cuttings. The maple tree is sturdy and sustains many conditions, but thrives best in moist soil and full sun. If you choose to add the maple tree to your backyard or garden, you will not find any easier tree to grow. It will not disappoint you with its beauty.

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