The maple family contains many more cultivars and tree sizes than the classic maples lining suburban streets. This wide and varied group includes varieties ranging from fence-high shrubs to towering giants.
Japanese maples, Acer palmatum, average around 20 feet tall but individual cultivars are much smaller. Butterfly, a Japanese maple with white-edged leaves, grows just seven feet tall. Vine maple, Acer circinatum, an understory tree or shrub native to the western coastal forests of North America, may grow to just five feet tall.
Sugar maples, Acer saccharum, usually grow 60 to 80 feet tall with a spread half their height. One sugar maple in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is over 150 feet tall. Red maples, Acer rubrum, are the next tallest maple trees. Although red maples average 40 to 60 feet tall in cultivated landscapes, a red maple found in Haywood County, North Carolina was 140 feet tall.
Bonsai artists use trident maples, Acer buergeranum, and amur maples, Acer ginnala, as well as the traditional Japanese maple to create miniature but mature plants. These bonsai specimens are often less than 20 inches tall. Prostrate bonsai styles, such as the cascading form, may only reach five inches tall.
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