General Questions and Answers about Maples

Maple Nomenclature

What is a maple? Technically speaking: A plant belonging to the Aceraceae family whose members include genera Acer and Dipteronia .   Maples are in the genus Acer placed together in this group   by their similar flowers.

What is a species? A group of plants that differs from its closest neighbors in both geographical and ecological distribution and breeds true - ie.: the resulting offspring are the same.

What is a cultivar?   A cross between two or more species, forms or varieties, resulting in a unique form which is propagated asexually; from cuttings, grafting or tissue culture

How many species of maples are there?   There are about 140 species of maples.

How many cultivars of maples are there?   Good question!   Maybe 1500. This number is going up all the time as nurserymen strive for finding new forms.

Can I name a seedling?   Sure, but in order properly introduce it into the trade the plant needs to be evaluated for 8-10 years to determine that it is absolutely, positively new and different from all other plants like it in the world.   In my opinion, too many plants are entered into the trade without proper evaluation. There is a strict set of rules to follow.   For more information see International Code of Botanical Nomenclature .


Maple Botany

Do maples have flowers?     Most maples are known for their colorful display of leaves.   All maples have flowers but most are very small and inconspicuous. However, some like A . pseudoplatanus do have wonderful floriferous displays in the spring. In general, most maple flowers have 5 petals and 5 sepals with a split ovary with two stigmas and 10 stamens.   Most are bisexual and pollinated by insects.

Do all maples loose their leaves in the fall? Most are deciduous, however like most generalizations about nature there are exceptions...a few maple species are evergreen. (Note: some deciduous maples leaves will stay attached dead to the tree after they die in the fall).

What are those helicopter spinning seeds? All maples have winged seeds which are called a samara.

What is their native habitat?   Maples are not worldwide in their natural occurrence: most are found naturally in the temperate regions of the planet.   When found at the lower latitudes of Mexico or Asia they are found at higher elevations.   The greatest number of Acer species grows in China.