Maple Tree Identification

There are lots of Maple trees in New England. Many species are native to this area, and many other species have been imported from Europe and Asia. To the untrained eye, all Maple leaves can look the same. Here are some identification tips.

Winged samaras are the main defining characteristic of maple trees.

Sugar Maple

  • Five lobes
  • Few large teeth on each lobe
  • U-shaped sinuses
  • Leaves smooth to the touch
  • Smooth gray bark on young trees
  • Rough bark that runs down in long irregular strips on mature trees

Red Maple

  • Three lobes
  • Many small teeth on each lobe
  • V-shaped sinuses
  • Leaves have round bottom
  • Smooth gray bark on young trees

Norway Maple

  • Five lobes
  • Wider than sugar maple (6-7" across)
  • Wide angled samaras
  • White sap in petioles (unique to Norways)

Silver Maple

  • Five lobes
  • Deep lobes, more than 1/2 way to midrib
  • U-shaped sinuses
  • Margins irregularly double-toothed
  • 3-6" leaves
  • Mature trees have dark, furrowed bark with narrow scaly plates
  • Frosty light green underside to leaf

Black Maple

  • Usually three lobes, sometimes five
  • Few coarse teeth on margins
  • Dark green leaves
  • Almost black bark on mature trees, rougher than sugar maple
  • Thick, sometimes droopy leaves
  • Brownish-yellow fall color
  • Pointy lobe tips
  • Hairy lower leaf surface

Japanese Maple

  • Seven lobes
  • Dainty red samaras

References

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