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KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderSapindalesIncludes citrus; maples, horse-chestnuts, lychees and rambutans; mangos and cashews; frankincense and myrrh; mahogany and neem
FamilySapindaceaeSoapberry family

About plant names...

Acer (rhymes with “acre”) is the genus that includes about 125 species of maple trees. Acer means “sharp” or “bitter,” the former a reference to the sharply pointed leaves. Maple trees inhabit temperate zones throughout the world.

Acer (maple)

The triple maple leaf is the emblem for Canadian unity.


Acer (maple)

Maple (Acer) · 10/13/2008 Species not yet identified

Acer (maple)

Maple (Acer) · 8/29/2004 · North Adams, Mass­a­chu­setts Species not yet identified

Some members of Acer:

Acer griseum

Acer negundo

Acer palmatum
Common Name

paperback maple


Japanese maple
Plant   Trees are up to 69' (21 m) high and about 26' (8 m) around.  
Flowers   Male and female flowers occur on separate trees.  
Leaves   Variable: pointed ovals, ovals with two side points similar to poison ivy leaves, or leaves similar to red maple.  
Stem   Unevenly branched, with thin, shallowly furrowed gray or light brown bark. Young branches are light green.  
Seeds   Pairs of winged samaras.  
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 4-8

USDA Zones: 2-9

USDA Zones: 5-8
Habitats   Virtually all soils, with a preference for moist conditions.  
Type Wild Wild Wild


Acer palmatum ‘Beni Otaki’

Acer paxii

Acer pensylvanicum
Common Name

Beni Otake Japanese maple

evergreen maple

striped maple
Plant   An evergreen. 49' (15 m) tall. Up to 16-33' (5-10 m). It may appear shrub-like in the forest, where it is often found as an understory plant. The bark is a smooth green on young plants or branches, with white vertical striations as the tree ages.
Flowers     Greenish or yellowish, drooping racemes, which later become paired samaras
Leaves   Leaves have three lobes or none at all, 1¾-4" (5-11 cm) × ¾-2" (2-6 cm).


Opposite, and 3-6" (8-15 cm) × 2-4½" (6-12 cm) in size. The leaves’ rounded bottom and three points are significantly different in appearance than other maple leaves.
Seeds   Seeds are winged as with other maples, but purple. Seed pairs are about 1” long
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 6-8

Type Cultivar Wild Wild


Acer platanoides

Acer pseudoplatanus

Acer pseudosieboldianum
Common Name

Norway maple

sycamore maple

Korean maple
Plant   66-115' (20-35 m) high, with a broad crown, oval to rounded in shape. Trees up to 33' (10 m) high.
Flowers Flowers are yellow and in a roughly spherical group. Yellowish green, in May. Flowers are purple.
Leaves Sharply tipped, almost hairlike leaf tips, instead of slight rounding as with other maples. Sap from a picked leaf is white. Leaves are bright yellow in the fall. Five-lobed, with serrated edges, 4-10" (10-25 cm) in size. Composed of palmlike leaves with 7-13 distinct, sharply lobed leaflets, making them similar in appearance to those of Japanese maple. Brilliantly colored in the fall. Young leaves have a sticky white layer of hairs.
Stem Bark is gray, with shallow grooves. Depending on age, may be smooth and gray or covered with large peeling scales that reveal several colors of inner bark.  
Seeds   Samaras are 1¼-2" (3.2-5 cm).  
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 4a-8b
Habitats     Temperate forests of China and Korea
Type Wild Wild Wild


Acer rubrum

Acer saccharinum

Acer saccharum
Common Name

red maple

silver maple

sugar maple
Plant 59-89' (18-27 m) high. 49-82' (15-25 m) in height, with a max of 115' (35 m).  
Flowers Flowers red. Flowers very early in the spring. Small, yellowish green, in tufts along twig ends; not very conspicuous. Groups of five to ten, yellow-green.


Typically with three tips, unlike other maples. Bright red or orange in the fall. Leaves are 3½-4½" (8.9-11 cm) long.

Acer (maple) 

In five sections, with deep notches and narrow lobes, 3-6" (8-16 cm) × 2-4½" (6-12 cm), silvery-white underneath.


Slightly rounded at the tips. Bright red, orange, and yellow in the fall. Sap from a plucked leaf is clear.
Stem Trunk 18-30" (45-76 cm) around. Bark gray, smooth when young, becoming shaggy with age. Bark becomes shaggy on older trees.
Seeds Clusters of two-winged samaras. Each wing is ½-⅞" (1.5-2.5 cm) long. Wings are at an angle of 50-60°. Fairly large 1¼" (3.2 cm) winged pairs.  
Range/ Zones

Habitats Almost any soil, from swamps to poor dry soils, below 2953' (900 m) Often found near water, especially along riverbanks  
Type Wild Wild Wild
Occurrence Common Common  


Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’

Acer spicatum

Acer triflorum
Common Name

golden full moon maple

mountain maple

three-flowered maple
Plant   To 33' (10 m) high, but usually much smaller; a crooked tree or shrub. Reaches 20-30' (6.1-9.1 m) (max 45' (13 m) in height.
Flowers   Flowers occur on greenish-white “spikes,” about 3" (7.6 cm) long × 1" (2.5 cm) in diameter, pointing upright. Flowers pink to greenish-yellow, in clusters of 3.
Leaves   Usually 3 lobes, sometimes 5, with small, coarse teeth.

Acer (maple) 

Clusters of 3 leaflets, dark green, relatively narrow, un-maple-like leaves. Each leaf is 2-3" (5-7.6 cm) long and 1-1½" (2.5-3.8 cm) wide. Leaves brilliantly colored in the fall: reds, golds, orange-reds, purples.

Acer (maple) 

Stem   Smooth, sometimes furrowed or flaked Light- to cinnamon brown, with peeling bark.
Seeds   Samaras have two red wings, hanging in clusters. Samaras 1-1¼" (2.5-3.2 cm) long, joined at a wide angle.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 5-7

USDA Zones: 3a-11
Habitats   Cool mountain forests, at higher elevations  
Type Cultivar Wild Wild


Acer (maple)

(Acer) · 10/23/2009 · Pearl Hill State Park, Townsend, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 9 × 8" (22 × 20 cm) Species not yet identified


Acer description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Sep 2020.

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