The maple (Acer
), is a genus of trees and shrubs of the maple family (Aceraceae).
Distribution and Habitat
Of the 125 species found worldwide, over two-thirds grow in China; 10 are native to Canada. Maples grow in various soils and at varying altitudes but prefer deep, moist, fertile soils. They are a major constituent of eastern deciduous forests. Sugar, black, silver, red and striped maples (A. saccharum
, A. nigrum
, A. saccharinum
, A. rubrum
and A. pennsylvanicum
respectively) are found in the East; mountain maple (A. spicatum
) occurs eastwards from Manitoba; Manitoba maple (A. negundo
) in Saskatchewan and Manitoba; bigleaf, Douglas and vine maples ( A. macrophyllum
, A. glabrum
and A. circinatum
respectively) in BC.
The tree may be large, medium-sized or small, depending on the species. The leaves are opposite, usually simple and lobed, and have 3-9 veins. The paired, winged fruits are a food source for birds and small mammals; deer and moose eat young twigs and leaves.
The great commercial value of the hard, durable maple wood is overshadowed by the worldwide fame of MAPLE SUGAR
and syrup. The maple leaf has long been considered an appropriate emblem for Canada. Maple leaves were used in coats of arms granted in 1868 to Ontario and Québec and the Canadian coat of arms granted in 1921. The leaf was used on regimental badges in WWI and WWII and was confirmed as an official national symbol in 1965 with the proclamation of the national flag. The maple was finally recognized as Canada's arboreal emblem in 1996.
Comfort Maple: the oldest maple tree in Canada, 400 years old, in the Niagara area (photo by Linda Bramble).
A sugar maple forest in the fall, Ontario (photo by Tim Fitzharris).
Links to Other Sites
Symbols of Canada
An illustrated guide to national and provincial symbols of Canada, our national anthem, national and provincial holidays, and more. Click on "Historical Flags of Canada" and then "Posters of Historical Flags of Canada" for additional images. From the Canadian Heritage website.
The Plant List
Search this online database for information about one million plant species from around the world. Also, click on "major plant groups" at the bottom of the page to browse descriptions of species of interest. Fungi and algae are excluded. From the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the UK and the Missouri Botanical Garden in the US.
The Ecological Framework of Canada
This site describes Canada's ecozones and the general concepts of ecological classification. Based on data developed by Environment Canada.
Top 10 Things Canadians Should Know About Canada
Click on the 101things.ca link to discover the top 10 things people should know about Canada, a list developed from a national survey of what Canadians felt were the 101 people, places, symbols, events and innovations that most define our nation. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
Flora of North America
The FNA website features information on the names, taxonomic relationships, continent-wide distributions, and morphological characteristics of all plants native and naturalized found in North America north of Mexico.