This is one of the most variable genuses. Maples range from ornamental shrubs and small trees to large forest giants. Foliage also varies from light green to almost black. While we usually think of the leaf shape of the Sugar Maple or Red Maple as typical, the leaves, too, come in many shapes and sizes. Flowers can be green, orange, red, or yellow, and bark colors are extremely variable, including various hues of grey, brown, black, green, white, and even red.
Maples also have diverse cultural requirements. Some, such as Japanese Maple, can be somewhat demanding, insisting on moist, well-drained soil and other particular conditions. Others are tough, resilient individuals that take less-than-ideal soils, etc, in stride. Maples represent the best and worst of trees; some are gentle, handsome, and seductive while others (Woodlawn obviously carries none of these) are obnoxious brutes.
When referring to Maples, one of the first characteristics we would name would be fall color and for good reason. Acer takes more fall color awards than any other tree genus.
One word of caution is in order, however: Maples have been planted extensively in the landscape to the point of overuse, partly because of their versatility. Looking for pleasant shade? Here's the perfect Maple. Want an exciting ornamental or conversation specimen? Maple has you covered. This has resulted in Maple becoming the tree that can do no wrong. But too many trees of one genus creates a monoculture, and monocultures invite problems. Variety is the key to sustainable landscapes. Your trees should consist of no more than 20% of any one genus, and no more than 10% of any one species. If you live in a close neighborhood with too much Acer already, it's best to enjoy your neighbor's Maple trees and plant something else on your own property. There really are many other worthy landscape trees. Scan our inventory or give us a call, and we will help you find one.