Ornamental Maple Tree

Ornamental Maple Tree at Sheffield Park Gardens


The Origin of Maples

The maple is pretty much a global tree. Over 125 species of maple come under the genus Acer and originate from North America, Europe and Asia with some geographic differences. Japanese maples are generally smaller, more ornamental trees while the American maple trees tend to be bigger, often grown to provide shade.

Almost all maples are deciduous. The foliage always has an opposite leave arrangement and most varieties have leaves that are palmate with either veins, lobes or leaflets. (Palmate being where the veins, lobes or leaflets all radiate from a single point). While the leave shape, colour and texture varies, Maple Trees are generally known for their autumn colour.

Typical palmate leaf structure of the maple

Typical palmate leaf structure of the maple


Maple Flowers and Seeds

Maples usually produce small flowers in early spring. The fruit or seed pods are called samaras. We all know these as helicopter seeds, which spin as they fall from the sycamore tree. Although not native to the UK, the sycamore tree is also a species of maple, its Latin name being Acer Pseudoplatanus.

The fruit or seed pods of the Maple Tree are called samaras.

The fruit or seed pods of the Maple Tree are called samaras.


Maple trees should not need much pruning and tend to be low maintenance. All maples prefer to have protection from strong winds.

While most of you know that we have quite an extensive collection of Japanese Maple trees in a wide variety of sizes and maturities, we would like to introduce some of our non-Japanese Maples Trees, including a few new arrivals!

The British Maple
Let’s start with the Field Maple or Acer Campestre, native to Britain and mainland Europe. Interestingly, it was the wood from the Field Maple growing in the Northern Italian mountains that Stradivarius used in making his violins and violas. Maple is widely recognised as a wood that carries soundwaves well. The Field Maple looks stately when grown as a stand-alone tree or you can trim it to grow as a deciduous hedge (with the added advantage that its leaves arrive early and stay late into the autumn).

The North American Maples
The Variegated Box Elder Maple (Acer Negundo Flamingo) is a most attractive small ornamental maple tree. The new leaves emerge pink in spring, maturing to green with white as the season advances. Unusually for a maple, the Variegated Box Elder has pinnately compound leaf, meaning it has an odd number of leaflets on either side of the stem due to a terminal leaflet at the top.

The Silver Maple (Acer Saccharinum) is a fast growing North American maple with long feather-like leaves. The foliage appears a striking silvery green in colour due to the green leaves having a silver underside. The Silver Maple likes moisture and does best if planted near a pond, lakeside or river bank.

The Chinese Maples
The Paper Bark Maple or Acer Griseum is known for its dramatic cinnamon coloured bark that is revealed as the outer bark gently peels away. The bare bark looks particularly dramatic in winter.

The Snake Bark Maple or Acer Davidii is a striking small ornamental maple tree. Its bark as it matures is green with white stripes. New shoots are pink, which is quite dramatic and it produces small yellow flowers in spring.

The Japanese Maples
View our full collection of Japanese Maples here. You may also be interested to visit previous blog posts such as Variegated Japanese Maples and Japanese Maples with pink foliage.

maple tree

Maple Tree in full summer foliage with decorative seed pods

ornamental maple trees

As ornamental trees go, maples can be breathtaking -this one taken from a Notting Hill garden