With their stunning display of fall colors in reds, gold and yellow, maple trees are the pinnacle of fall. Maple trees belong to the genus Acer, and there are over 100 species of maple trees! They grace landscapes throughout the world and most are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves each fall. In fact, one of the most commonly planted trees in the US is a maple.
You can easily recognize a maple tree by the leaves – the leaves of all maples have five points. The leaf shape itself may be slender, almost lacy, like the Japanese maple, or wide in the middle like the Norway maple, but the leaves always have five points or finger-like projections. With so many species of maple, it would be nearly impossible to list them all, but here are some standouts:
A hybrid of the red and silver maple, this fast grower combines the best attributes of both in a stately, adaptable shade tree. Exceptionally bright red fall color and vigorous growth are hallmarks of this popular and proven performer. This tree is available through our residential planting program, RiverSmart Homes. You can get up to $100 back for planting this tree yourself through our tree rebate program.
The plant explorer, (because yes, that is a thing) John Bartram first introduced the Norway maple to the United States from England in 1756. The widely adaptable tree quickly became popular and was planted in towns and rural communities as a shade tree. While these trees have demonstrated invasive traits, there is insufficient supporting research to declare them so pervasive that they cannot be recommended for any planting sites. Part of its original popularity is due to its tolerance of urban conditions, but it often becomes a weedy plant through self-seeding. For obvious reasons, we don’t plant Norway maples nor are they eligible for a tree rebate. Plant these instead: Plenty of lovely, native maples to choose from including the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and red maple (Acer rubrum).
Red maple is one of the best named of all trees, featuring something red in each of the seasons—buds in winter, flowers in spring, leafstalks in summer, and brilliant foliage in autumn. Its showy nature coupled with its tolerance of a multitude of soils, it’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular planted trees. This tree is available through our residential planting program, RiverSmart Homes. Since this will grow into a large shade tree, it’s eligible for up to $100 back for planting this tree yourself through our tree rebate program.
This maple is the first choice for those seeking to make maple syrup, as the sap contains a larger percentage of plant sugars than with any other maple species. While it can make a good large shade tree in the right circumstances, this is, unfortunately, not well suited for cities – sugar maples don’t respond well to compacted soils, road salts, or pollution.
Article photo courtesy Angela N. via Creative Commons.