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What Species of Maple Trees Are in Michigan?

By Nanette Alton ; Updated September 21, 2017
Red maple in autumn.
maple leaf image by Mr. D from Fotolia.com

Maple trees in Michigan are as common as the surrounding great lakes. In this heavily forested state, they are the main stars of the fall color spectacle throughout the northern and upper peninsula. There are many species of maple trees worldwide that survive in Michigan, but three of the most important and common native species are the sugar maple, the silver maple and the red maple.

Sugar maple

Sugar maple fall splendor.
maple and tall grass image by Andrew Kazmierski from Fotolia.com

The sugar maple is known under the scientific name of Acer saccharum. In Michigan, no autumn country drive would be complete without admiring the spectacular display of red, yellow and orange of this majestic tree. It grows to a mature height of 60 to 75 feet tall and 40 to 50 feet wide. Commercially available and easy to transplant at smaller sizes, this tree makes a grand statement when planted in a large lawn panel or an elegant alley. Try the cultivars "Green Mountain," "Legacy" or "Commemoration" for beautiful range of warm yellow to orange fall color. It is hardy in zones 3 to 8.

Silver Maple

Maple seedlings.
autumnal maple seed image by ewa kubicka from Fotolia.com

Fast growth and beautiful silver leaf undersides might seduce you into planting this giant maple in your front yard. Be careful, however, to limit planting to areas where it can spread its massive, shallow root system. At maturity, the Silver Maple, also known as Acer saccharinum, grows to a height of 50 to 70 feet tall and 30 to 45 feet wide. Hardiness zones are 3 to 9.

Red Maple

Red maple leaves unfurling.
acer (ginnala) image by Tom Curtis from Fotolia.com

Graceful and elegant, Acer rubrum is the queen of Maple trees for all seasons in Michigan. The neat and tidy form makes a perfect complement in the home landscape or when used as a street tree. Typical habitat is in low lands where water is widely available, so water it often until it is established. Pink-tinged flowers in spring last for a short time, but are a welcome harbinger of warmer weather. Spectacular fall color in intense reds can take your breath away. Try the cultivar “October Glory” for an intense show of orange, red and gold color gradients. The red maple grows to a height of 40 to 60 feet and will have a variable width. It will perform well in hardiness zones 3 to 9.


About the Author


Nanette Alton is a licensed landscape architect in Michigan, employed by the Michigan Department of Transportation. She formerly served as a landscape architect for Michigan State University, where she learned horticulture and landscape design from plant and design experts. Alton earned a Bachelor of Science in landscape architecture from Michigan State University and studied design at Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan.