Maples

Red Maple Norway Maple Sycamore Red Maple

What are they?

The maples are mostly a readily recognisable group of trees once learned, but some of the species can be tricky to tell apart from each other. For a long time, maples were classified in a family of their own - the Aceraceae - but more recently they have been included in a much larger family (the Sapindaceae, along with a few other familiar trees, such as the Horse Chestnuts.

Where are they found?

Our maples include both native species of woodland and hedgerow and a range of species grown as ornamental trees. They are a common feature of the countryside as well as in parks and as roadside amenity trees.

Identification

The leaves of maples are typically palmate, with a number of veins all radiating out from a common point at the base of the leaf, and are carried in opposite pairs. The flowers are variable but often quite showy and are followed by winged fruits that are wind-distributed. Most of our species can be identified quite easily simply by the leaves, but details of the winged seeds and the flowers can also help.



Sycamore      Acer pseudoplatanus

Introduced from mainland Europe. Abundant throughout the region, self-seeding with abundance and now well-established as part of the landscape, especially in urban, suburban and disturbed habitats. Flowers May to early June. A very variable tree that can reach 30m in height and form a large, stately tree in parkland habitats, but which is often smaller and more spindly in woodland or shaded environments. The hanging trusses of yellow flowers are distinctive in spring. Leaves similar to Norway Maple but with much less pointed lobes. Winter buds light green.

Sycamore Sycamore Sycamore Sycamore
Habit
Flowers
Leaf
Young leaves
Sycamore Sycamore Sycamore
Fruits
Winter twig
Bark


Norway Maple      Acer platanoides

Introduced from mainland Europe. Frequent throughout the region as a utility tree along roadsides and sometimes in forestry stands and hedgerows. Frequently self seeds. Purple or variegated forms are frequent as street trees or in churchyards, but variegated trees tend to eventually revert to green. Flowers April. The bright yellow flowers are carried in erect bundles and are very eye-catching when seen en masse in spring. Leaves similar to Sycamore but with much more pointed lobes. Winter buds reddish-purple. Wings of paired fruits strongly diverging.

Norway Maple Norway Maple Norway Maple Norway Maple
In flower in spring
Flowers
Leaf
Leaves of variegated form
Norway Maple Norway Maple Norway Maple Norway Maple
Seedlings
Fruits
Winter twig
Bark


Field Maple      Acer campestre

A native tree but also commonly introduced from mainland Europe and used for hedging. Very common throughout with any native distribution now masked by extensive plantings of a range of different varieties. Flowers April to May. Capable of grwoing to 25m or more as a tree but much more common as a clipped hedge. Leaves very variable in the width of their lobes due to the use of imported plants from a number of different sources. Young shoots rich orange-brown, often becoming covered in corky wings when growing in sunny sites.

Field Maple Field Maple Field Maple Field Maple
In flower in spring
Flowers
Leaves
Leaves
Field Maple Field Maple Field Maple
Fruits
Winter twig
Bark


Silver Maple      Acer saccharinum

Introduced from North America. Occasional as a street tree and in municipal plantings, most often as the cut-leaved variety 'Laciniata'. Flowers March to April before the leaves. A broad-crowned tree with gracefully arching to pendulous branches and craggy bark.

Silver Maple Silver Maple Silver Maple
Male flowers
Female flowers
Leaves
Silver Maple Silver Maple Silver Maple
Fruits
Winter twig
Bark


Red Maple      Acer rubrum

Introduced from North America. Occasional as a street tree and in municipal plantings, often as varieties selected for their bright autumn colours, for which this species is well known. Flowers March to April before the leaves. A broad-crowned tree with gracefully arching to pendulous branches and craggy bark. Similar to Silver Maple but with much less deeply cut, three to five-lobed leaves.

Red Maple Red Maple Red Maple Red Maple
Female flowers (above)
Male flowers (below)
Leaves
Leaves
Autumn colour
Red Maple Red Maple Red Maple Red Maple
Fruits
Winter twig
Bark of young tree
Bark of mature tree


Paperbark Maple      Acer griseum

Introduced from China. Reported where persisting from original plantings in a handful of places in Suffolk. May also be found in churchyards or municipal plantings. Flowers May to June. A small, often multi-stemmed tree, most notable for its rich mahogany, flaking bark.

Paperbark Maple Paperbark Maple Paperbark Maple Paperbark Maple
Habit
Flowers
Leaves
Leaf
Paperbark Maple Paperbark Maple Paperbark Maple Paperbark Maple
Fruits
Fruits
Winter twig
Bark


Ash-leaf Maple      Acer negundo

(Box-elder) Introduced from North America. Commonly used in municipal plantings though rarely escaping into the wider countryside. Flowers May to June. A dense, thorny, evergreen shrub. Leaves 2-4cm in length, rather variable in shape but typically with regularly-toothed (crenate) margins and coming to an acute point at the tip. Leaf stalk downy. Flowers in large trusses, followed by orange-red fruits that are rounded with a slightly flattened top.

Ash-leaf Maple Ash-leaf Maple Ash-leaf Maple Ash-leaf Maple
Habit
Flowers
Flowers
Leaves
Ash-leaf Maple Ash-leaf Maple Ash-leaf Maple Ash-leaf Maple
Leaf
Fruits
Winter twig
Bark