Landscaping with Maple Trees

By Nancy Penrose

Maple trees are known for their beautiful autumn leaf colors. There are more than 100 different species of maple trees. Most are native to Asia.

Maples range in height from 33 to 148 feet. The wood of larger maple trees like North America’s sugar maple and Europe’s sycamore maple is used in the manufacturing of bowling pins, butcher’s blocks and pool cue shafts. Some musical instruments like violins, bassoons and cellos are also built with maple wood. Maple syrup, a thick, sweet condiment, is made from the sap of sugar maples, red maples and black maple trees.

The maple tree’s leaves grow opposite each other, and are generally veined and lobed. The seeds of the maple tree are samaras, a type of fruit with a flattened wing of fiber-like tissue. Maple samaras look like the propeller of a helicopter. The tree usually flowers in late winter or early spring. The flowers are red, orange, yellow or green.

Maple trees can live for up to 200 years or longer. They are often planted as ornamentals due to their fall color and fast growth.

Several types of maple trees grow extremely well in the Pacific Northwest, including the Rocky Mountain maple, vine maple, bigleaf maple, autumn blaze maple, crimson sentry Norway maple and paperbark maple.

Rocky Mountain maples are relatively small (less than twelve feet tall) with greenish smooth bark. Vine maples grow up to 20 feet tall, with dark red and white flowers, vibrant leaf colors during the Fall and showy bark.

The bigleaf maple, which grows up to 100 feet tall, has green flowers. In the Fall, the tree’s leaves turn gold and yellow. Autumn blaze maples are a hybrid of the silver maple and red maple, with brilliant orange and red Fall leaves.

The crimson sentry Norway maple has crimson leaves that turn to marron during the summer and gold in autumn. Paperbark maples have smooth, orange-red bark that peels in thin layers. The tree’s leaves are dark green, and its flowers are yellow.

If you’re looking for a maple tree for your landscape, ask one of our big tree experts which is the best tree for your growing environment.

Nancy Penrose is owner of Big Trees Inc. (, (tree nursery Seattle / Snohomish, WA), one of the largest Seattle tree nurserys, specializing in large trees for sale and transplant tree service. Learn more about the care you can receive from our tree specialist at See our video at and connect with us on Facebook at