What are the Different Types of Maple Trees?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

The noble maple is a striking tree with well over one hundred species. Making up the Aceracaeae family, these lovely trees are found throughout the world, though tend to prefer relatively temperate climates. Maple trees make their homes in various forests, reserves, and yards across the globe, most frequently in North America, Europe and eastern Asia. Among the many types of maple trees, a few stand out as kings and queens of their family.

Japanese maple trees are prized for their beautiful foliage.
Japanese maple trees are prized for their beautiful foliage.

One of the kings of the family, the sugar maple, is known for its spectacular fall foliage and sweet, delicious sap. Maple syrup is created by tapping the sap lines of a sugar maple, then boiling the sap to create maple sugar or syrup. Native to the northeastern United States and Canada, the sugar maple has heavy, beautiful wood that is highly prized as a material for bowling lanes and flooring. The fall foliage of the sugar maple is incredibly diverse, as the broad green leaves run the gamut of color from pale yellow to deep, smoldering crimson.

Japanese maples tend to have slender trunks and branches when compared with other types of maple trees.
Japanese maples tend to have slender trunks and branches when compared with other types of maple trees.

Japanese maple trees are actually comprised of dozens of different cultivars but tend to be recognizable by their delicate leaves. Though quite as colorful as their larger cousins, the Japanese maples tend to have slender trunks and branches and a profusive leafy bloom. Their boughs and leaves create a domed shape when untended, and many varieties turn a deep, dark red in fall. Japanese types of maple trees are a favorite of gardeners and add color and grace to any yard or formal garden.

Although many types of maple trees can reach astonishing heights, some can also be tended into miniature bonsai displays. Almost all types of maple trees can be carefully guided into bonsai form, but some species, such as the trident maple or Japanese maple, are more common. As hardy and durable trees, maples generally respond well to the pruning and clipping that goes along with creating a perfect bonsai tree. Since many types of maple trees have such a high tolerance to treatment, they are often recommended as an excellent bonsai tree for beginners.

With hundreds of types of maple tree, it's unsurprising that some individual trees have gained fame. The giant Comfort Maple of Ontario is one such specimen that serves as a regular tourist draw. Believed to be over 500 years old, the remarkable Comfort Maple reaches a spectacular 80 ft (24.5 m) in height. As far as can be determined, the tree is both one of the largest and the oldest maple trees in Canada.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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Discussion Comments


There are several Japanese maples planted in front of the building where I work. They are really lovely trees. The leaves are reddish year-round, but they turn a really deep crimson in the fall of the year. The red leaves against an October blue sky is a sight I wish I could paint.

There's not much space in front of the office, but those maples seem to do just fine where they are. They get a lot of morning sun, but not much in the afternoon. The leaves are beautiful and they're good for fall arrangements, since they're not quite as big as regular maple leaves.


We have a sugar maple in our front yard. I'm not sure how old it is, since we've only lived there six years, but it is huge. It's at least 40 feet tall. I mean that thing is enormous. It's beautiful and has a glorious, conical shape.

In the fall, the leaves are yellow-orange. They don't have any red in them. The only thing about the tree is, as big as it is, it has a *lot* of leaves, and they really pile up in the yard in the fall. It's no problem to have several leaf piles that are taller than I am, and 10 feet around. Like I said -- it's a big, big tree.

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