7 Common Types Of Maple Trees In the UK

The United Kingdom is Europe’s second-least forested country, with only Ireland having fewer trees. This isn’t to say that the UK is devoid of vast forests. Native trees grew in the area after the last ice age but before the UK was cut off from mainland Europe. Non-native trees were transplanted to the UK by people.

Of the wide variety of trees in the region, there is only one species of native maple trees, i.e., the Field Maple. The sap of the field maple, like that of all maple trees, can be used to manufacture maple syrup. The remaining species of maple trees are non-native. The 5-lobed foliage and winged fruit of maple trees help to identify them.

According to medieval legend, passing a maple branch above a child could eradicate any trace of witchcraft. In some European regions, maple branches draped around a doorway were considered to keep bats out.

The different colors of fall leaves on most maple trees are absolutely adored, ranging from a subtle yellow to a brilliant amber and crimson color. Their development rate and height differ pertaining to the species. Their large size is usually an advantage in terms of providing shade for plants and animals, but other maple trees are employed as accent trees due to their graceful beauty.

Most maple trees thrive on soil that is rich, permeable, and well-drained. They flourish in a wide range of soil pH, with many preferring somewhat acidic soil. A huge number of species prefer direct sunlight or mild shade. To combat leaf scorch, several plants must be shielded from the sunlight and hydrated properly.

1. Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Red Maple (Acer Rubrum)

The Red Maple is a sturdy tree with dark green foliage that turns spectacularly red in the fall and produces tiny clusters of crimson spring blossoms. Research has identified this species to have appeared in the United Kingdom before 1656. It is a fast-growing tree that can reach about 40 feet in height and requires very little maintenance.

2. Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

Silver Maple acer saccharinum leaves
Derek Ramsey Silver Maple (acer saccharinum) leaves

Although a native of North America, it grows readily in the UK. The Silver Maple’s bright green leaves have a silver underside that makes them especially beautiful. It blooms with yellow and red buds in the springtime. It can grow up to a height of 50 to 70 feet in just a few years. It may grow in a variety of soils, usually preferring moist soils.

3. Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)

Norway Maple Acer Platanoides
Jonathan Billinger Norway Maple (Acer Platanoides)

The attractive Norway maple, which was first acquired in the 17th century, is recognized for its resistant timber and can reach a height of 80 feet. The twigs are slim and brown with small white dots, and the grey bark has fine ridges. Greenish flowers bloom in bunches of up to 30 in the spring. The dark green leaves turn yellow and sometimes red in autumn.

4. Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum)

Paperbark Maple Tree Acer griseum
Bruce Marlin Paperbark Maple Tree

The Paperbark Maple can reach a height of 20 to 30 feet, with a chestnut-brown bark that peels away to expose the beautiful cinnamon-red hardwood beneath. It blooms with little yellow flowers in the springtime, and its three-lobed leaflets are dark green on top with a blue-green base. In the fall, they attain a warm crimson and orange color.

5. Field Maple (Acer campestre)

Field Maple Elsrijk acer campestre leaves
Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org Field Maple ‘Elsrijk’ (acer campestre leaves)

Field maples can reach 65 feet in height and survive for almost 350 years. Its small, dark green, lustrous leaves turn a rich golden yellow, eventually falling in autumn. The blossoms are tiny, cup-shaped, yellow-green, and dangle in bunches. It grows in woodlands, hedgerows, and on chalky lowlands. Owing to its compact form and pollution endurance, it is extensively cultivated in parks and gardens.

6. Sycamore Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus)

Sycamore Maple Acer Pseudoplatanus
John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org Sycamore Maple (Acer Pseudoplatanus)

Sycamore is native to Eastern, Central, and Southern Europe. The Romans are said to have brought it to the UK. It can reach over 100 feet in height and has a lifespan of 400 years. When younger, the bark is smooth and dark pinkish grey, but with age, it cracks and produces little plates. The flowers are small and green-yellow, and they are borne on spikes.

7. Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Sugar Maple acer saccharum leaves
Plant Image Library Sugar Maple (acer saccharum) leaves

This huge tree has a circular, dense canopy in the fall, with magnificent, multicolored leaves and small, green flower clusters. They can reach 60 to 75 feet in high, although they might grow much taller in the wilderness. Maple sugar and syrup can be made by boiling the sap. It grows best in fertile, somewhat acidic, wet, and well-drained soils.