View Full Version : Sugar or Red Maple?

12-07-2004, 12:11 PM
I hadn't noticed this little guy before but with this foliage I sure didn't miss him this time! It's self seeded (and staying right where it is, I LOVE free trees) but I'm not sure which type of maple it is. The stems are bright red but the bright yellow color suggest Sugar Maple. Does anyone have an idea?


12-07-2004, 03:26 PM
If the tree is from seed then it could be a hybrid, but it appears to be a sugar maple or some hybrid of sugar maple.

Quirky Quercus
12-07-2004, 06:22 PM
I'm going to guess red maple and my reasons are that the leaves on the sacchinarinum are much more detailed and pointy. Sugar maples have rounded edges and red maples are more like 3 lobes. And the red stems make me think of my red maples. The color the leaves turn depends on a number of environmental factors and the cultivar.

But you're right, the yellow color would make me think it would be a silver maple at first glance. I'm going to post a photo of a closeup of one of my red maple leaves from this season which shows the red stems so you can compare them with what you got.

By the way, you're smart for leaving the free trees. You'd be surprised at how many people think maples are weeds and lawn mower them to their demise.:(


12-07-2004, 07:17 PM
Thanks. It may be a cross of some kind. There are a few maples around the neighborhood but I've never really tried to find out what kind they are. I'll compare the leaves to my red maple (baby tree, no seeds yet) when it leafs out next year.

Taxmodium, this is one of two or three seedling maples that I'm leaving where they are this year. I've also got two pines, an oak and several redbuds that I'm letting grow where they sprouted. In fact I sent redbuds to several people last year and have two potted up to be given away next year and one maple seedling to pot up to go to my daughter's house.

12-07-2004, 09:03 PM
That looks to me like a sugar maple, or possibly a Norway maple. As far as I can tell from the picture, the margins (edges) of the leaves aren't serrated (toothed), as they would be for red or silver.

Red and silver can hybridize with each other, but sugar maple can't hybridize with the other two.

My gut reaction is that it's a sugar maple, but I'd have to see the buds to totally rule out Norway.

12-08-2004, 02:32 AM
I have a collection of unidentified small maple volunteers. I move them to a part of a flower bed I'm not using and if a neighbor wants one he can have it. If not, well, I'll kill em off at four feet or so.

I was able to give away a White Ash which spring up in my yard. Darn roots were wrapped around some rocks though and it darned near came up bare rooted.

12-08-2004, 08:52 AM
If the lobes on the leaf are smooth, it's sugar maple. Red maple tends towards more toothy outer edges, as shown in Taxodium's post.

Red or yellow color doesn't rule out either sugar or red maple - the red maples I have were yellow this fall; the two sugar maples got pretty red. Orange is usually reserved for sugar maples, although I can guess that it can't be that hard for a red maple to have some mix of red and yellow that looks orange, but hey, it might be impossible. (case in point: the links below list different colors than the Smithsonian book I referenced last night, used in combination with my own observations in this paragraph!)

To rule out Norway maples, break the stem on a leaf. Norway maples leak a white sap.

You can also ID by the buds (although I personally haven't gotten the knack for it yet) and fruit:

Sugar: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/commontr/sugar.htm
Red: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/commontr/redmaple.htm
Norway: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/commontr/norway.htm

Choose "back" on one of those links and you can get to the "Common Trees of Pennsylvania" and choose some other trees - the line drawings they provide help me ID better. Although I generally prefer a color photograph, sometimes it's easier to make a determination with a simple clear, line drawing.

12-08-2004, 12:28 PM
To rule out Norway maples, break the stem on a leaf. Norway maples leak a white sap.

That's generally a quick way to tell; I didn't suggest it this time because I've found that once the leaves have changed color, the sap often stops leaking.

Sugar maple terminal buds are reatively narrow and pointy:
While Norway maple buds are fat and roundish:

12-09-2004, 09:08 AM
I'll check it this weekend and see what I can tell. If nothing I'll check it in the spring as the buds swell and try and figure it out then. Thanks all.

Quirky Quercus
12-09-2004, 09:13 AM
I had mistaken the topic to say silver or red in my original post but my money is still on red.