Family: Aceraceae
Common Name: Maple

Widely grown in the US, particularly in the cooler and cold northern states where some are native plants, these deciduous trees and shrubs are loved for their magnificent foliage which colors beautifully in autumn. They have distinctive, hand-shaped leaves, insignificant flowers and winged seeds, known as samaras, joined in pairs.


A. buergerianum (Synonym: A. trifidum), from China and Japan, is a slender tree which grows quickly to 6 m (20 ft) and can be recognized by its triangular-lobed leaves which turn red and yellow in the autumn.

A. campestre, English or hedge maple, from Europe and western Asia, grows 6 m (20 ft) in height and colors yellow in tall.

A. cappadocicum, from western Asia, grows to 15 m (50 ft) and has large leaves. 'Aureum' has yellow leaves on opening and in autumn while 'Rubrum' has red leaves on opening and yellow in autumn.

A. carpinifolium, hornbeam maple, from Japan, grows to 9 m (30 ft) and has plain, oval, fine-toothed leaves with parallel veins. The leaves measure 8-10 cm (3-4 in).

A. davidii, from China, is grown for its glossy, white-striped bark. It has large, heart-shaped leaves and can grow to 9 m (30 ft).

A. ginnala, the Amur maple, from China and japan, is a bushy shrub which grows to about 6 m (20 ft). The three-lobed leaves turn red in autumn.

The bark of A. griseum, paperbark maple, from central China, peels attractively, and the three-lobed leaves change to red and orange in autumn. It grows to about 12 m (40 ft).

A. hookeri, from the Himalayas, grows to 6 rn (20 ft) and has long heart-shaped leaves, bronze-colored in early spring, red in autumn.

A. monspessulanum, the Montpellier maple from southern Europe, grows to 6 m (20 ft) and has small, broad three-lobed leaves with reddish winged seeds.

A. negundo, box elder, zone 3, from North America, is a quick grower to about 12 m (40 ft). It has become rather invasive in some districts, producing a great quantity of seed which disperses and germinates readily. 'Elegans' has yellow-margined leaves and grows to around 6 m (20 ft). 'Variegatum' has broken white margins on its leaves and reaches a height of around 6 m (20 ft).

A. palmatum, the Japanese maple, is a shapely, bushy tree with small, five-pointed leaves which turn red, gold and purple in autumn. It grows to 5 m (16 ft). There are an extremely large number of varieties of this popular maple, including the well-known 'Atropurpureum', with deep purple foliage which later turns red.

A. pensylvanicum, the striped maple from North America, zone 3, grows to 6 m (20 ft). It has large, three-lobed leaves and white-striped bark.

A. saccharinum, silver maple, zone 3, grows 25-40 m (80-130 ft), with pinkish flowers and bright green five-lobed leaves, silvery beneath, which color yellow and then red in the autumn.

A. saccharum, the sugar maple of North America, zone 3, grows upwards of 15 m (50 ft) and produces flaming autumn colors. A. saccharum subsp. nigrum, the black maple from North America, zone 3, reaches a mature height of 15-30 m (50-100 ft).


For planting, a deep, sandy loam is best; add leaf mould or other organic matter to the soil to ensure moisture retention as the leaf tips of most varieties burn easily if the soil becomes dry. Propagate species by seed and sow as soon as it is ripe. All varieties and cultivars should be budded or grafted. Pruning is unnecessary except in order to trim excessive growth or to correct wayward branches. It may be necessary to thin the new growth after pruning.


Many species are suited to zone 6.

Acanthus      Achillea