The maple leaf is one of the most prominent symbols of Canada, and signifies the country's respect for nature and the value of maple trees. Maple trees are used to make maple syrup, furniture and other wood products and are also desirable as beautiful shade trees. There are over 150 species of maple trees, according to Canada's official government website, but only 10 of them are native to North America and grow in Canada.
Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)
The bigleaf maple is aptly named. Not only does this tree have enormous leaves--up to a foot wide--but it can also grow to heights of over 100 feet. This tree grows along the Pacific coast of Canada and prefers rocky but moist soil. It is often found along waterways. In fact, indigenous tribes used to make canoes by toppling these trees and carving the shape of the canoe right out of the trunk. Bigleaf maples are spectacular in size, but have subdued, yellow or muddy brown fall foliage.
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)
Sugar maples are one of the largest types of maple trees. These trees can grow upwards of 115 feet in height. They are spectacular in the fall and often change colors gradually, with some of the tree remaining green, another section bright yellow and still another part of the tree changing to a vibrant orange color. Sugar maples grow in Canada from Nova Scotia to the southern reaches of Ontario and are one of the most important trees in Canada due to the clear, sweet sap of the tree. This tree (along with the Black maple) is the primary source of sap for the making of maple syrup. In addition, the wood is extremely hard and durable and is favored in furniture-making.
Mountain Maple (Acer spicatum)
Mountain maple are often called "moose maples" due to the fact that moose like to nibble on the tree's tender leaves. Mountain maples are found in southeast Canada and are smaller than many other types of maples. These trees only attain a height of around 25 feet and grow on a slender trunk. They are often found growing tucked under much larger trees. Mountain maples not only provide moose with food, but they also provide food in the form of seeds and buds for birds, rabbits, beavers and other woodland creatures.
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
The red maple tree is widespread in eastern Canada, from Ontario east to Newfoundland. This hardy tree will grow on almost any type of soil, from boggy to dry, and is aptly named due to its red seeds, flowers, twigs, and bright red fall foliage. This tree can grow to heights of 50 feet and is often chosen as an attractive shade tree by home landscapers.