The maple trees in North America grow mostly in the eastern portion of the continent, although a few species do exist in western regions. Familiar maples like the sugar maple and red maple are important trees in terms of supplying lumber and in the production of maple syrup. However, many lesser-known maples are attractive trees that have ornamental value to landscapers.
The chalk maple (Acer leucoderme), which grows mainly in the Southeast, is a species that you could plant in many areas of the nation. Chalk maple is a small tree that grows to a maximum height of only 25 to 30 feet, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Chalk maple takes its name from its bark, which is whitish or a very light gray, and which is among the tree's best qualities. These trees frequently develop more than one trunk and have leaves 2 to 3 inches wide with from three to five blunt lobes. Chalk maple has excellent autumn color, with bright reds, oranges and yellows possible. The tree will grow in alkaline soil, shade, sun and dry ground, making it a good choice as a landscaping plant for a variety of conditions and locations. Chalk maple has uses as a shade or specimen tree, especially if it is planted against a dark background to highlight its bark.
The bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum) is a close relative of the sugar maple of the eastern states but grows native to the Rocky Mountains and western parts of Texas. The edges of its leaves contain exaggerated blunt serrations between the lobes, which number three or five, hence the name bigtooth. Bigtooth maple trees have bright green spring and summer foliage that turns red-orange or red in the fall. Also called a canyon maple, this species can grow to 50 feet tall but is often no larger than a shrub. Bigtooth maple prefers well-drained moist soil but can handle dry conditions if necessary. The tree withstands the cold quite well and bigtooth maple will grow in the shade. As a landscaping tree, bigtooth maple shines as a specimen tree or a tree that you can use as a screen or windbreak. Branches must be pruned on a regular basis.
Striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum) has the nickname of moosewood and is an important browse species for not only moose but deer and other smaller animals. Striped maple grows in the Northeast and through the mountains of the Mid-Atlantic states. The tree is generally small, so a 45-foot high striped maple is considered to be a large specimen. Striped maple has greenish bark when young, with a series of vertical stripes of white running up and down the tree. Over time, the bark becomes darker and bumpy. This can make it attractive as a landscaping tool and the tree gives you the added benefit of growing in the shade. In the wild, striped maple is an understory species. The leaves are as long as 6 inches and nearly that wide, with three lobes and serrations running along the leaf edges. Striped maple grows slowly but can live for a hundred years, accoding to Maple Info.org. The species prefers moist soil, cool conditions and will not do well if exposed to extreme heat, drought or air pollution.