Maple profile - interesting facts about the maple genus

Maple profile - interesting facts about the maple genus

Botanical system and appearance

For the interested home gardener, important information about the suitability of the maple for the garden is hidden behind sober key data, such as height or winter hardiness. Of course, decorative aspects of the appearance should not be missing, such as leaf shape or flowering time as well as important criteria for the family garden such as possible toxins. The following profile provides all the fundamental characteristics of the genus at a glance:

  • Name of the genus: Maples (Acer) with 150 to 200 species
  • Horse chestnut family (Hippocastanoideae)
  • Distribution areas: Europe, North and Central America, Asia, North Africa to the tropics
  • Deciduous trees or shrubs
  • Heights of growth from 80 cm to 30 m, rarely up to 40 m
  • Leaf shape: palmate, multiple lobes, rarely pinnate unpaired
  • Foliage color: medium green, lighter underneath, yellow-orange to bright red in autumn
  • Flowering time in Europe: March / April to April / May with inconspicuous, yellow-green flowers
  • Winged split fruits in autumn
  • Toxicity: Sycamore seeds and sprouts are deadly poisonous for horses and donkeys
  • Age: 200 to 500 years

also read

  • The midday care: Interesting facts about the care of the genus Delosperma
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  • Silver maple fact sheet - source of maple syrup

In Europe, three native maple species and their cultivars determine the picture. Sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), Norway maple (Acer platanoides) and field maple (Acer campestre) have been able to hold their own in the local climate since the last Ice Age and have a reliable frost hardiness. Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) that immigrated from Asia is still hardy enough to stand out in European gardens with its compact growth and splendid varieties.

Ingenious propagation strategy - fruits with a fun factor

The maple tree uses a sophisticated propagation strategy that also increases its popularity among children. So that the fruits cover the largest possible radius, they are equipped with two wings. These stand out from the nut fruits at an acute or obtuse angle. On the one hand, this aerodynamic shape results in a long-range transport with the wind and, on the other hand, a remarkable autorotation during the descent, which is reminiscent of small helicopters.

Before the ripe fruits and their wings disintegrate in half, they serve as fun noses for children. A single maple tree is enough to rejuvenate an area of ​​10,000 m² with offspring. Resourceful home gardeners harvest the seeds to use them for targeted propagation.

Jewel for the garden and balcony - tips on possible uses

The maple genus gives us a varied mix of magnificent species and varieties for creative garden design. We have compiled an excerpt of imaginative possible uses for you below:

  • Majestic eye-catchers for the spacious park and large garden: sycamore maple and Norway maple
  • Elegant house tree for the front yard: Globosum globe maple or Nanum globe maple
  • Decorative sight and wind protection hedge: field maple (Maßholder) or ornamental field maple Red Shine
  • Attractive container plant: Asian maple with furious varieties such as the dark red 'Dissectum Garnet'

Almost all members of the genus are suitable for cultivation for bonsai. Sycamore maple has the potential to be an impressive outdoor bonsai for beds and balconies. Field maple that is easy to cut forgives beginners in bonsai art for many a beginner's mistake. Thanks to its fine branching, filigree leaves and bright leaf colors, Japanese Japanese maple is predestined for bonsai indoors and outdoors.

Ecologically valuable - maple is more than just a pretty backdrop

Limiting the maple to its decorative function does not do justice to its importance for nature. The interesting genus makes a valuable contribution to the ecological balance in many ways:

  • The yellow-green to reddish flowers serve as a crowded bee and butterfly pasture
  • Roots close to the surface loosen the soil thoroughly
  • Autumn leaves quickly decompose into rich humus

Maple species that grow shrubby, such as the field maple, gather in dense hedges that carry their foliage for a long time. Birds, insects and small animals know how to use this to breed here or to seek protection from predators and winter cold.

Maple syrup - sweet temptation

In North America and Canada, maple syrup is an integral part of the kitchen. In Europe, the sugar-sweet, sticky juice is enjoying increasing popularity with young and old, to be enjoyed with small pancakes, muffins, ice cream or in drinks. The sweet temptation is obtained from the Canadian maple, also known as sugar maple. For this purpose, the trunk is drilled and the juice that flows out is collected.

The main supplier of maple syrup is Canada with more than 80 percent of world production. Maple trees are so important to this country that a red maple leaf adorns the national flag.


One of the most distinctive maple trees in Germany can be viewed in Hamburg. The sycamore maple in the Hirschpark is 200 to 220 years old and around 25 meters high. With a crown width of a full 36 meters, the giant exceeds the average volume by more than double. The mighty trunk is richly branched and reached an impressive 6.39 meters in circumference when it was last measured in 2012.