The majority of people associate Louisiana with wetlands. Though they aren’t wrong, this coastal state also has many spectacular habitats to offer. From uncommon prairie habitats, rolling hills, pine woods, and stunning beaches in addition to its famous marshlands to a variety of maple trees, Louisiana has it all, including maple trees.
Maples belong to their own family, the Aceraceae, and there are about 125 different species found around the world. The name Acer comes from a Latin word that means “sharp,” and it alludes to the distinctive edges on the leaf lobes.
Maple trees are attractive decorative trees known for their vibrant autumn foliage, which turns red, orange, and yellow. Thanks to their massive crowns and huge leaves, many of these trees also give abundant shade.
Although they are infamous for being the source of maple sugar, which is used in producing the delectable maple syrup, many maple trees serve other purposes as well. For example, maple trees provide light-colored wood, which is used for flooring, carpentry, plywood, furniture, and also firewood.
Maples feature tiny, inconspicuous flowers that grow in droopy bunches. The fruit is made up of winged key seeds, which are also known as double samaras, that mature early in the springtime. However, the redbuds and emerging red stems on the Red Maple are particularly noticeable.
Although North America has thirteen indigenous maple species, only five are regularly observed across the majority of the continent. In Louisiana, there are six commonly found species of maple trees, which we mention below.
1. Box Elder Maple (Acer negundo)
The Box Elder Maple grows wild in Louisiana’s swamps and has unusual compound leaves. However, it does not age well and is not a good shade tree since the bark is fragile, and it self-seeds profusely. It yields a tasty syrup when harvested for sap. It has a yellowish bloom on its green to purple twigs, and it flowers from February through October.
2. Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
This maple grows up to 60 to 80 feet tall and flowers in February. Its identifying feature is its silvery leaves. When a fast-growing cover tree is required, the Silver Maple is often recommended. However, in this region, the Silver Maple is short-lived since the bark is brittle and easily broken, and the tree is subject to rodent infestation and a number of fungal wood rots.
3. Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Red maple trees can be found all over the eastern United States. Louisiana is inhabited by the Swamp Red Maple species. This maple has a special adaptation for poor drainage. The female trees yield a large and elegant winged fruit varying in color from ruby to burgundy dangling from barren twigs in January and February. They can grow up to 40 to 50 feet tall.
4. Southern Sugar Maple (Acer barbatum)
Louisiana’s native deciduous shade tree, the Southern Sugar Maple, is underutilized. It is found naturally after having adapted to thrive in Louisiana’s hot and humid weather, doing notably well in south Louisiana. It grows moderately to quickly, reaching up to a height of 40 feet in a short time span of 20 years. It is known for its fiery fall foliage.
5. Trident Maple (Acer buergerianum)
Small leaves with three big, pointy lobes are the identifying characteristic of the trident maple, trident meaning “three teeth”. It has a spread of about 15 to 20 feet, grows to be about 20 to 25 feet in height when fully grown. It has a beautiful golden or crimson fall color. The bark peels and flakes elegantly on elder trees, adding to its beauty.
6. Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)
Japanese maples are among the most visually appealing ornamental trees. They occur in multiple shapes and sizes, often reaching a height of 15 to 20 feet. Japanese maples are slow-growing, growing just 1 to 2 feet each year. These trees are low-maintenance once planted. They do well in north Louisiana but can be trickier to grow in the southern regions.