How to Identify Maple Trees

How to Identify Maple Trees
There are 13 species of maple trees that are native to the United States. To tell which trees you encounter are maples you should have with you a field guide to trees. By taking careful note of various aspects of the tree you can ascertain if it truly is a maple.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

How to Identify Maple Trees

Things You’ll Need:
  • Field Guide to North American Trees
  • Field Guide to North American Trees
Step 1
Identify maple trees by their deciduous leaves. Maples shed their leaves every autumn before growing them back the following spring.
Step 2
Identify maples by the shapes of their leaves. Maple trees typically have palmate leaves, which means that they resemble the shape of a human hand.
Step 3
Identify maple trees by the three to five lobes on each leaf. The leaves will also have what appear to be veins running through them.
Step 4
Identify maple trees by the opposite arrangement of their leaves on a twig. There will be two leaves growing from each node in opposite directions.
Step 5
Identify maples trees by using the range maps in your field guides to determine what maples grow in your part of the country. While the majority of maples thrive east of the Mississippi there are a few, like the Rocky Mountain maple, that exist in the American West.
Step 6
Identify maple trees by their fruit. These are called samaras and are actually two winged seeds joined together. When they fall from the tree they twirl like a helicopter's blades.
Step 7
Identify maple trees by their proportions. Maples normally will be almost as wide at their crown as they are tall.
Step 8
Identify maple trees by the texture of their bark. Younger trees will have smooth bark but the bark becomes furrowed as the tree ages.
Step 9
Identify maple trees by the brilliant colors their leaves turn in the fall. Maples will turn bright oranges, yellows, reds, scarlets and even shades of purple when the weather gets cold.

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