World wide, there are some 150 species of Maple, distributed throughout the Northern hemispheres’ Temperate Forest Zone. About two-thirds of them are in Eastern Asia.
Ten maple species are native to Canada. We would like to provide you with information on these ten native maples that grow from Newfoundland & Labrador westwards to the Pacific coast.
The information contained here has been taken from “Trees in Canada” (Canadian Forest Service/NRCAN) and “Native Trees of Canada” by Tom Farrar. It has been reproduced with permission.
Ten native Canadian species in the genus
Click images for more information (PDF)
What is a Native Species ?
Taken from “A landowners Guide to the Native Woody Species of Southcentral Ontario” – Forest Gene Conservation Association/barb boysen
- The native trees and shrubs in our forests have evolved over millennia to be adapted to the local soils and climate.
- A native species is one that existed in Ontario prior to European settlement and is adapted to local conditions. The term Native often has political connotations – e.g. native to Ontario, although given the size of Ontario, this is less than helpful.
- Indigenous is a term that is used interchangeably with ‘native’, but has a more meaningful, locally explicit meaning. An indigenous species is adapted to local conditions such as a river watershed, or even more specifically, to the bottom slopes of the river valley.
Description of Maple Tree Genus
- Quick Recognition: Leaves with 5 tapering and pointed lobes; teeth few, irregular. Buds long pointed, with 6-8 pairs of scales. Paired keys with stalks longer than the wings: wings slightly divergent.
- Usage: Wood from some species is used for flooring, furniture, interior woodwork, plywood, veneer, and small woodenware. Fruit, buds and twigs are an important source of food for many species of birds and mammals.
- Leaves: Deciduous , in opposite pairs, simple, long stalked; 3-9 prominent veins radiating from the stalk at the base of the leaf, usually palmately lobed with the number of lobes corresponding to the number of prominent veins; lobes toothed.(Manitoba Maple; leaves composed of 3-9 leaflets pinnately arranged along a central stalk.).
- Buds: Terminal bud is usually present, with 1-8 pairs of scales; lateral buds smaller, in opposite pairs. The Vine maple’s terminal bud may be absent.
- Twigs: Stiff, straight. Spring flush of growth is pre-formed in the bud; subsequent shoot growth is neo-formed. Twigs often terminate in a withered stub between a pair of lateral buds (absent in some species) in clusters. Pollen flowers and seed flowers may be in the same cluster, in separate clusters, or on separate trees; a tree may have 1, 2 or 3 types of flowers. The flowers appear before or with the leaves. Pollination is by insects or wind.
- Fruits: Winged; in joined pairs (rarely in 3’s) on a single stalk; often separating when shed. Each fruit (often called a key) consists of a one- seeded case and a long one -sided wing. The angle between the wings in a pair is a useful feature in identifying species; the angle is measured with reference to the outer edge of the wings. Wind-dispersed.
- Seeds: Remain with the fruit. Seeds ripening in autumn can be stored under very cool moist conditions until the following spring; those ripening in spring or early summer are extremely difficult to store.
- Seedlings: Newly germinated seedlings bear leaf-like cotyledons raised above the surface. (Silver maple: cotyledons green but may be retained within the seed case).
- Vegetative Reproduction: Often by stump sprouts; some species by layering (rooting of attached branches where they touch the ground).
- Wood: Light coloured, straight-grained, uniform in texture; varies from species to species in hardness, toughness, and other properties with a curly grain or bird’s eye figure in some trees. Diffuse and porous; rays are small and often visible without a hand lens.
- Size and Form: Shrubs to large trees. Leading shoot upright. Shoot growth from the pair of buds just below a terminal flower cluster frequently results in a forked stem.
- Habitat: Some species prefer wet sites; others grow mainly on uplands. Maples are a major component of many north temperate forests.
- Maple syrup and Maple sugar can be derived from the sap of most species, most notably Sugar Maple. The sap flows in spring before the leaves appear.
- The response of Maple leaves to light is evident. Leaves attached to the underside of a horizontal branch have longer stalks and larger blades than those on the upper side; leaf stalks are bent or twisted so that all leaves face up and are arranged so that all are well exposed to light.
- The brilliant colours of Maple forests in autumn are unique and among the most splendid natural spectacles of Eastern North America.