All About Maple Trees

Thursday, September 30, 2021 15:06:29 PM America/Los_Angeles

As temperatures cool and days get shorter, fall foliage graces us with its seasonal beauty. When imagining brilliantly-hued autumn landscapes, it’s likely that you’re also thinking of the magnificent maple tree. While fall is an especially glorious time of the year for maples, there’s much more to this species than its colorful leaves. 

Photo by Mario Dobelmann

When and Where Do Maple Trees Grow?

Even though maple trees are commonly associated with autumn, they grow year-round and a few varieties are even evergreen! Those that are native to the Mediterranean and southern Asia remain green all year long. Maple trees can be found in European, northern African, and North American countries. They’re typically seen in the northern hemisphere and only one species grows in the southern hemisphere. 

Once temperatures begin to drop in early fall, maple trees will begin to showcase their famous yellow, red, and orange leaves. Leaves turn from late September to late October, depending on the weather and region, with southernmost locations tending to turn later in the season. Trees go bare in the winter and sprout green leaves again in the spring to start the cycle all over again. 

What Are Maple Trees Used For?

Maple trees are most commonly known as producers of maple syrup. However, this versatile genus is also used for timber (for furniture and housing materials), tonewood (for instruments), and pollen (for honeybees). Maple is especially valued for its timber and is used for anything from bowling alley lanes, to baseball bats, to dining tables. 

Cultural Significance

Notably, the maple leaf has become symbolic of Canada. The Canadian flag and military insignia features a stylized maple leaf. It’s also frequently incorporated into Canadian souvenirs and is also the basis for the name for Toronto’s hockey club -- the Toronto Maple Leafs. Beyond North America, the maple tree is also commonly used for the Japanese art of bonsai. 

Foliage is a tourist attraction and draws “leaf-peepers” from all over the world who are hoping to catch a glimpse of the bright, seasonal leaves lining streets and mountains. Whether it’s in Canada, upstate New York, or Japan, fall foliage is an awe-inspiring sight that maple trees contribute to annually. 


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