Maples trees are common in both the United States and Canada. Maples are known for the production of maple syrup, with most commercial maple products occurring in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, according to Maple-Trees.com. Maple trees propagate by seeds that have wings, which look like tiny helicopters when they spin to the ground.
These trees are easily identified by their leaf shape. The opposite branching of this tree also sets it apart from other trees. It has simple broad leaves that are typically five-lobed. The maple tree is a deciduous tree with dark green leaves that turn bold shades of yellow, red and orange in fall. They have three main veins that radiate from the base of each leaf, according to AboutMapleTrees.com. Maples are self-pollinating trees.
Besides providing maple syrup, maple trees have other benefits. About Maple-Trees.com notes that the tree's wood is an ideal fuel source and can be used for making charcoal. Maple timber is usually used for making sturdy furniture and its fine-grained wood offers an ornamental quality.
Maple tree sizes vary according to individual species. Usually, these trees range in size from 30 to 145 feet, according to DimensionsGuide.com. Some maple trees are small enough to be considered shrubs rather than trees as they only have an average height of less than 33 feet (about 10 meters) or even less. Maple leaves also vary in size according to individual species. While some are only an inch wide, others can be 6 inches or more.
According to Maple-Trees.com, the species providing the most commercial sap is the red maple species. The sugar maple and black maple tree are the maple varieties mostly tapped by hobbyists. The sugar maple has brown slender twigs and five-lobed leaves. It produces winged seeds about an inch long and horseshoe-shaped fruit. While young sugar maples have smooth gray bark, older trees are thicker and have furrows. Black maples are darker than sugar maples and have a somewhat larger seed. Red maples are slender and have V-shaped fruit that mature in spring. Silver maples are similar to red maples, but have scraped bark with a bad odor.
Maple trees may encounter several diseases from unfavorable environmental conditions. The fungal disease Verticillium wilt causes wilting the branches dying with affected wood showing olive green or gray streaks when bark is peeled off affected limbs, according to the University of Rhode Island Horticulture Program website.
Anthracnose is a maple tree disease in which browning occurs in abnormal leaf areas or leaf veins, typically during wet cool spring weather.
The University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticulture Program website cautions that urban grown maples can suffer from stress more than those trees grown in forests. This is because they're more likely to be planted in disturbed soils that are constantly contaminated with salt and air pollutants. This type of stress, known as maple decline, can be detected in a tree having smaller leaves, dead branches or limbs and leaf browning. Although maple decline isn't a disease, it can weaken a tree.