In 1940, an organization called American Forest began searching for the largest specimens of American trees, forming a National Registry of Big Trees. The Kentucky Division of Forestry participates in the registry. Among the many large trees that the Division of Forestry has found and listed for Kentucky, six are varieties of maple trees.
Box Elder Maple
The box elder maple, Acer negundo, has numerous popular names, including ash maple, red river maple, stinking ash maple and three-leaved maple. The Canadians call it the Manitoba maple; the Russians call it the American maple. A specimen in Johnson county Kentucky is 166.9 inches in circumference. It is 74 feet tall, and its branches spread 98 feet wide.
The red maple, Acer rubrum, sometimes called the swamp maple, gets its name from its brilliant, deep red leaves in the fall. The sap of the red maple can be made into a syrup, but it isn’t as good as the sugar maple. A red maple in Lawrence County, Kentucky, is 210 inches in circumference. It is 99 feet tall, and its branches span 73.5 feet.
Red Maple x Trilobum
The red maple, Acer rubrum trilobum, is a smaller variety of the red maple, but it has a wider canopy. A specimen in Knox County, Kentucky, is 145 inches in circumference. It is 76 feet tall; its branches span 133 feet.
The sprawling silver maple, Acer saccharinum, produces springtime flowers that are greenish-yellow to red. These form light green leaves that turn yellow-gold in the autumn. Its leaves are white on the underside, hence the source of its name. A huge specimen in Pulaski County, Kentucky, is 297 inches in circumference. It is 102 feet tall, and its branches span 100 feet.
The striped maple, Acer pensylvanicum, also known as the moose maple, is one of the smaller maple trees. A striped maple in Harlan County, Kentucky, is 34 inches in circumference. It is 45 feet tall; its branches span 52 feet.
The leaf of the abundant sugar maple, Acer saccharum, is on the Canadian flag and it is the state tree of New York. The specimen in Letcher County, Kentucky, at 151 feet, is the tallest maple tree in Kentucky. It is 124 feet in circumference, and its branches spread 75 feet wide.