Maples are very popularly planted trees in landscapes along the front range. They grow medium to fast and there are many species big and small to choose from. The maples have long held a prominent position in our yards, parks and along many city streets. Predominantly Silver, Sugar and Norway maples have been the Acer species of choice. However grand and significant they’ve been, their presence paralleling the population growth of the west for the past one hundred years, we have discovered faults and phased many of these selections out in recent years. Luckily, thanks to modern advances in hybridization there are many new and auspicious options in maples available when color and tradition are commanded in the landscape.
Maples tend to have deficiencies of iron in the high pH soils of the front range and suffer from chlorosis as a result. Iron chlorosis shows up as a yellowing of the leaves and is often isolated to one side or part of a tree but can affect the entire canopy.
Some varieties of maple are predisposed to poor physical structure often resulting in disastrous limb and leader failure as the tree matures. Early structural pruning can be helpful and sometimes can establish an architecture sufficient to the plant’s long term survival.
Sun scald is common on young trees and where outer/upper branches have been removed or broken exposing the supple bark of previously protected limbs.
With most container or ball & burlap (B&B) plant material, we look for girdling roots which are fairly common in these trees and can be a huge issue if left to neglect and chance. While looking at the roots check for a root flare which should be discovered by digging if not readily apparent.
Maples have very few issues with disease along the front range. They are susceptible to Verticillium root rot when under stress. The most common stresses for maples are soil related. Also found during particularly wet and warm springs are the occasional fungal problem on the leaves of some maples.
Maples will sometimes succumb to an aphid population if stressed from poor soil or root conditions. Because the aphids are opportunistic or secondary they will hardly have a long term negative effect on the tree. Sometimes spider mites can be problematic on maples, but is rare and often due to some other factor.
Cultivars and Popular Species
Several available, including Autumn Blaze, Norway, Red Maple, Northwood, Red Sunset, Silver Maple, Skinner, and Sugar Maple.
History and Use
Maples have been and continue to be an important source of commercial grade wood and of course maple syrup from the Sugar Maple. They also have enormous economic significance in the northeast as they attract millions of visitors each fall who observe and photograph the incredible reds, yellows and oranges of the maples (especially the Sugar Maple!)
The Canadian flag is the image of a Sugar Maple leaf.