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Video:How to Identify a Maple Tree

with Lea Elleseff

Maple tree identification can be complicated, but a few simple techniques will help you get it right. Watch how to identify a maple tree, leaf, and bark, and learn about its common varieties.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Identify a Maple Tree

Hi, I'm Lea Elleseff for About.com, here to show you how to identify a maple tree.

Identify Maple Tree Leaves

Most maple varieties have palmate leaves, meaning they resemble the shape of hands. Palmate leaves consist of lobes and sinuses.

Maple Leave Fruit

The fruit of a maple is a samara. Samaras vary in shape and color from one species of maple to another, but there's no way to mistake them. If you spot these on a tree, you can be certain that the beauteous wonder before you is a maple tree.

Identify Sugar Maple Trees

Let's take a close look a few varieties. Sugar maples are native to the North American Northeast, so it's no wonder that they abound here in Western New York. Their habitat is in rich woods with well drained soils. They are also are main source of maple syrup.

A sugar maple leaf has five lobes, few teeth between each lobe, u- shaped sinuses, and is smooth to the touch.

A sugar maple's bark is a solid hue of dark gray brown. If the tree is young, look for bark that is gray and smooth. Light blue lichens splotches, like we see here, are also common. If the sugar maple is mature look for furrowed bark that runs in strips.

Identify a Red Maple Tree

Red maples will often grow amongst sugar maples, but they are also more tolerant of harsher environments, like swamps and dryer soils. A red maple leaf has 3-5 lobes, many small hairs between each lobe, v-shaped sinuses, and a deep red autumn hue.

Identify a Norway Maple Tree

Next we move onto a city to study the Norway maple, a tree that is originally from Europe and often considered as an invasive species. A Norway is a good urban tree, because it is resistant to disease, pollution, and extreme insect love.

Its leaf resembles that of the sugar maple, in that it has five lobes, few teeth and is smooth in texture. It is however a bit wider, measuring up to 6-7 inches, which the sugar maple measures 5-6. Cultivars of Norway maples are usually green, but can be purple like this variety. The tree's samaras form a wide angle where they join and gain a reddish hue in the fall.

Identify a Japanese Maple Trees

Another popular landscaping tree is the Japanese maple, originally from China and Japan. The flowering petal shape of its lobe makes the identification of Japanese Maples easy. As do its dainty red samaras. I live close to a Japanese maple, and every time I pass by my mood is improved five- fold.

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