Maple trees are well known for their diversity, and make excellent choices for specimen trees within a landscape. Their graceful, colorful leaves are undeniable showstoppers each fall. While each variety has specific needs, the trees are grown widely throughout all planting zones in North America. the maple tree is low on maintenance but high on rewards to those who grow them.
While there are dozens of maple tree varieties, a few staples exist among homeowners in the United States. The most popular cultivars include the Sugar Maple, Silver Maple, Red Maple, Paperbark Maple, Norway Maple and Japanese Red Maple.
Three fungal diseases can pose a threat to maple trees if left untreated. Verticillium wilt, also called maple wilt, develops in the soil and is the most common disease that plagues maple trees, the Norway maple in particular. Sapstreak disease currently presents a minor problem to sugar maple trees, causing the wood to become discolored. Tar spot disease disfigures the leaves of maple trees, leaving a 1-inch diameter spot on the foliage but causes no additional damage.
The Asian longhorned beetle is the primary pest of maple trees. It is a large insect, averaging about 1 1/2 inches in length with antennae that can span up to 4 inches. The winged beetle has a banded black-and-white body. The Asian longhorned beetle feeds on maple trees by burrowing deep within the structure of the tree and can kill a maple if left untreated. Chemical products are available to control the insect.
Providing good soil is the key to proper growth and warding off diseases, like maple wilt in maple trees. To boost the growing condition of the tree's soil, homeowners can add beneficial mycorrhizal fungi to the soil.
Growth Rate and Use
The mature height of a maple tree will vary depending upon the variety, but it ranges from 20 feet to 100 feet. The deciduous trees are widely grown for their beautiful foliage and ability to shade. The wood of some varieties is used to make fine furniture, and the sap of the sugar maple is the signature and sole ingredient of maple syrup.