Indiana is home to 4.5-million acres of forested land, making up about 20% of the land in the state. Oak, hickory, beech, and maple trees make up most of those 4.5-million acres, but there are numerous other tree types in the state as well. If you’re searching for the perfect shade tree for your yard or garden, the maple tree is one of the best, and the state of Indiana has plenty of those.
Among other things, maple trees are known for their ability to make great shade trees, but you can use them for decorative trees as well, not to mention trees that make perfect maple syrup. The wood of the maple tree has dozens of uses, from musical recorders to furniture and baseball bats to butcher’s blocks. It is not just a versatile wood, but a very attractive one as well.
If you’re shopping for the right maple tree for your yard, it’s good to know a little about each type first, and below are descriptions of all three maple types available in Indiana. If you combine this with a little online research, you should be able to find the right tree for your needs.
1. Sugar Maple (acer saccharum)
The sugar maple tree can get up to 150 feet high, although the average one is only around 115 feet. Still, it is a stately tree that is a real eye-catcher, especially in the fall when the leaves’ bright, bold colors come out for attention. Not surprisingly, it is also used to make maple syrup.
Sugar maples also have leaves that get to around eight inches in length and have five separate lobes. Colors include yellow, orange, and a bright-red color, and because of their beauty and the ease of growing them, they are often found in public areas such as parks, gardens, and others.
2. Box Elder Maple (acer negundo)
Compared to other trees, the box elder maple tree — also called the ash-leaved maple — doesn’t live a very long life. It usually lives only 60-100 years, and it grows from 35 to 80 feet in height.
At one time, Native Americans used this tree as incense when the wood was burned and as candy when they mixed the sap with certain animal hides.
Although the wood is soft and can’t be used in too many things, it does do well when making pens, stemware, bowls, and fiberboard, among other things. The wood also has close grains and has a rather light color.
3. Black Maple (acer nigrum)
Similar to the sugar maple tree but with different-looking leaves, the black maple can grow 70-110 feet high and has wood that is used most often as timber for landscaping purposes, making it a very useful and valuable tree indeed.
In addition to being used to make tasty maple syrup, the sap from this tree is used in other foods as well, including maple butter, maple taffy or toffee, certain beers and liqueurs, maple leaf cream cookies, and many others.