On this page: red maple,
Maple leaf comparison
The red maple is usually
a medium-sized tree with a moderate growth rate.
The bark is smooth and light gray on young- and intermediate-aged stems,
while mature bark is dark gray and rough. Crushed twigs do not emit
a rank odor as does the silver maple. Twigs are reddish and have rounded,
oblong, vegetative buds. Floral buds are globose and conspicuous, since
they are borne in clusters. Lower branches tend to sweep upward.
The species makes an excellent suburban or rural landscape tree in
acid soil regions of the state. Numerous cultivars are available
and are marketed based on fall color and habit. This tree has an
requirement and is intolerant of wounding. With red maples, manganese
deficiencies are common in neutral to alkaline soils.
Red maple leaves and bark
Leaves: The leaves of the Red Maple are very roughly toothed
with 3-5 shallow lobes. Most of the Red Maple leaves are a light or
green to a whitish. During Autumn, leaves turn a bright red or
Twigs: Most Red Maple twigs appear to be slender and glossy.
At first the twigs are green but later in the year they turn a
Fruit: The dioecious, red
flowers are borne in dense clusters and appear in March or April
before the leaves; the buds turn a deep red sometime
before they open. Male trees can be planted if you do not want fruit.
Fruits have wings spreading at narrow angles and ripen in May or June.
The fruit consists of pairs of winged seeds, or keys, 1/2—1 inch
in length on long, drooping stems. Fruit color ranges from red to green,
becoming tan when mature.
Bark: On a young Red Maple the bark can be smooth and gray.
On older trees, bark can appear to be darker and rougher with peeling
Other Important Facts: The Red Maple is found mostly in Pennsylvania.
Most Red Maples grow to a length of about 50 feet high.
Norway maple leaves and bark
about Norway Maples [leave
The Norway maple was one of the most popular street trees in the United
States in the ‘60s and ‘70s. It originated in
Europe where it is native from Norway to Switzerland. It is hardy,
retains its leaves longer than the native maples, and endures the
smoke, dust, and drought of the city, though it is susceptible to
verticillium wilt and girdling roots.
Leaves: The Norway Maples leaves are very different than
those of the Red Maple. These leaves are 5 lobed and 4-7 inches wide.
pours from the stalk if it is broken. One characteristic by which
it can always be distinguished is the presence of milky sap in the
leaf stalks. If pressed or twisted, the leaf stalks
always yield a few drops of milky sap. Foliage color is bright green
above and shiny beneath, except for the horticultural color variants
that include wine, golden, and variegated forms. Fall foliage color
is yellow for the green-foliaged forms.
Twigs:The Norway Maples twigs are a reddish-brown. Buds
grow on the ends of the twigs. Buds are large (1/4 inch) and red
or greenish-red with two
to three pairs of bud scales; they are a sure means of identification
in the winter. Buds are rounded rather than acute-tipped.
Fruit: In early spring, the yellow to chartruse flowers are
arranged in 3-inch diameter clusters along the twigs. Flowers are borne
or May. This maple has the most attractive flowers of all maples. Flowers
are showy since they bloom before the foliage emerges. Fruit has horizontally
spreading wings that mature in September or October.
Bark: On young trees the bark can appear to be light brown
and smooth. As the trees get older the bark gets darker and rougher.
The grayish-black bark is furrowed with shallow, narrow ridges forming
a regular diamond pattern.
Other Important Facts: The Norway Maple is imported from
Europe. This tree, like the Red Maple, can also reach a height of
50 feet. It is
not similar to other maples because of the larger leaves, milky
sap and horizontal winged fruit. Leaf shape very similar to sugar maple
but more ornate. A milky sap appears when the leaf is broken off
of stem at the petiole. This sap is not found in sugar maple leaves
and distinguishes the two species.
Sugar maple leaves and bark
The tree attains a height
of more than 100 feet and a diameter of 3 feet or more. It is generally
a slow-growing tree. In the open, sugar maples have a symmetrical
crown. It is extensively planted as a shade tree, although it is
urban intolerant and should not be used in tree lawns.
Leaves: are simple, 5 lobed with very few large teeth,
which are about 4" wide. The sinuses (division between
the lobes) are rounded. The leaves are also a bright green towards
the top,andpale green down to the bottom.These leaves turn bright yellow,
red in the fall.
Twigs: are a reddish-brown and go to a light brown. The twigs
are smooth (glabrous) and reddish-brown in
color. The winter buds are smaller than Norway maple and sharp-pointed
with six to 10
pairs of scales.
Fruit: The flowers are yellowish-green, on long stalks, and
appear with the leaves in April. Male and female flower clusters appear
on the same tree. The fruit,
ripens in September, consists of a two-winged key. The two wings are nearly
parallel, about 1 inch in length.
Bark: gray brown, smooth on young trunks, older trunks fissured with
long, and irregular flakes. Bark is variable in this species. It is usually
thin, smooth and gray on young trees, becoming thicker, darker and
deeply furrowed into vertical, occasionally scaly ridges.
The way to tell Red Maple and Sugar Maple apart is by the bark. The
real difference is that the Red Maple has lighter and smoother bark
then the Sugar Maple. Also the Red Maple has a bitter sap as compared
to the Sugar Maple.
Silver maple leaves and bark
Acer saccharinum (dasycarpum)
The silver or soft maple is most common
on moist land and along streams. It attains heights of 100 feet or
more and diameters over 3 feet.
It usually has a short trunk which divides into a number of large,
ascending limbs. These again subdivide, and small branches droop
but turn upward at the tips. The silver maple grows rapidly and has
widely been planted as a shade tree. The urban-tolerance of the silver
maple makes it the longest-lived of the maples in urban settings.
The wood is soft, weak, even textured, rather brittle, easily
worked, and decays readily when exposed to the elements.
Leaves Leaves are 3 to 6 inches long, opposite, simple, and
palmately 5-lobed. Leaves are lobed more than
half way to midrib. Margins are irregularly double-toothed. The leaf
surfaces are glabrous, light green above and white to silvery below,
giving it the common name "silver maple." Fall coloring is
green to yellow-brown, and is not striking.
Twigs: The buds are rounded, red or reddish-brown, blunt-pointed,
and generally like those of the red maple. Clusters of globose floral
buds are also present on silver maple. Crushed twigs emit a rank odor.
Fruit: The flowers appear in February or March, before the
leaves, in dense clusters and are of a greenish-yellow or reddish-yellow
color. This may be the first native tree to flower, although the flowers
are not showy. Fruits have divergent and curved wings that mature in
May or June. It consists of a pair of winged seeds, or key, with wings
1—2 inches long on slender, flexible stems about an inch long.
Fruit can be a litter problem, since they are borne in great numbers.
Bark The gray-brown bark is smooth on young trees, later developing
irregular furrows with thin, gray, scaly plates.
Black maple leaves and bark
IThe black maple
is a large, deciduous tree 60 to 80 ft in height with a dense, rounded
trunk up to 4 ft in diameter. It is very similar to the sugar maple,
with a few distinguishing characteristics: the leaves are usually
palmately 3-lobed with hairy lower leaf surfaces, the leaf blades
are thicker and characterisically drooping at the sides, twigs
are orange-brown and the bark is almost black and more deeply furrowed.
Leaves: The leaves are simple, opposite, with a few coarse
teeth along the margins, dark green on the upper surface and yellowish-green
The fall color is yellow or brownish-yellow, sometimes red, but
less so than the sugar maple. The 3 to 5-inch petioles often have leaf-like
stipules at the base which obscure the lateral buds.
small, yellow flowers are produced in May at the base of newly-emerging
The 0.5 to 1-inch-long winged fruits are produced in pairs. They
mature and dry in late summer, sometimes separating when shed,
hairy stalk on the tree.
Twigs: Winter buds are egg-shaped, with
pointed tips and hairy, overlapping reddish-brown scales.
Bark: The bark of black maples is dark gray with deeply furrowed,
irregular ridges. The bark is darker and more deeply furrowed than that
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