by Nancy Penrose

There are over 125 different maple tree varieties in the world. Maples are known for the oppositely arranged leaves, with leaflets (lobes) coming out from many different points at the base of the leaf. Maples also have seeds called samaras that look like propellers.

Maples are members of the Acer (Aceraceae) family, a Latin word that means sharp, in reference to the tree’s leaves. Maples include both shrubs and trees which can grow up to 150 feet tall.

Common maple trees in the Pacific Northwest include the Rocky Mountain Maple (Acer glabrum) vine maple (Acer circinatum), and Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum).

The Rocky Mountain maple is a small tree, usually less than twelve feet tall, with a green tinged smooth bark that is only native to the Pacific Northwest, but can also be found in New Mexico, Arizona, Nebraska and South Dakota

The Vine maple is a slightly larger tree that can grow to 20 feet tall and does well in good, damp soil. It is frequently used in landscaping due to its vibrant fall leaf colors, showy bark that is similar to the Japanese maple, as well as its sturdy growth. The tree’s flowers are wine-red and white.

The Bigleaf maple can grow up to 100 feet tall, and has a gray or reddish brown bark with ridges. The Bigleaf maple, which grows well in well-drained soil, can be found in British Columbia all the way down to California.

There are several other varieties of maple that do well in the Pacific Northwest, including the Autumn Blaze Maple, Crimson Sentry Norway Maple, and Paperbark Maple, to name a few.

The Autumn Blaze Maple is a hybrid (silver maple and red maple) known for its brilliant orange and red foliage during the Fall. In Summer, the leaves are green. The Autumn Blaze Maple can grow up to 3 feet or more feet a year, up to 50 or 60 feet tall with a thirty to forty foot spread, and does well in both clay and wet soil.

A favorite maple for small lots is the Crimson Sentry Norway Maple. The tree’s Fall crimson leaves turn to maroon in the Summer and gold in the Autumn. Lemon yellow flowers appear on the branches in the Spring. It has a narrow, dense oval shape and canopy that can provide shade. The tree does best in full sun and moist soil. It is a low maintenance tree that may require occasional pruning.

The Paperbark Maple can grow up to 30 feet tall with a spread of up to 15 feet. The name “paperbark” refers to the trees paper-like bark. It’s a cinnamon brown with a peeling look. The tree’s leaves are three to five inches wide. The leaves are green in the summer and are a mix of reds, yellow and orange in the fall. The Paperback Maple grows best in full sun or partial shade.

If you are considering a maple tree to enhance your yard, consult a big trees expert who can discuss your options and help you choose the right tree for your particular environment. A big trees professional will know which type of maple trees for sale will do best in your space, and can also assist you with transplanting.