Plant & Flower Identification

What Are Maple Trees In Michigan? 10 Common Types

Michigan’s landscape comes alive with a burst of vibrant colors every autumn, thanks to the majestic maple trees in Michigan that adorn its forests, parks, and streets.

These iconic trees have woven themselves into the very fabric of the state’s identity. This offers breathtaking scenery and valuable resources.

This article will bring to the world these wonderful trees. You can learn about many different maple types and how to care for them! Let’s scroll down for valuable information! 

What Are Maple Trees?

maple trees in michigan

Maple trees belong to the genus Acer. They are known for their distinctive leaves with serrated edges and vibrant autumn colors, ranging from bright yellows and oranges to deep reds.

These trees are widely distributed across the Northern Hemisphere, including North America, Europe, and Asia.

One of their most iconic features is their sap, which can be collected and processed to make maple syrup – a sweet and flavorful syrup often used as a topping for pancakes and waffles.

Maple trees are also valued for their timber in furniture-making and other woodworking applications.

Different species of maple trees can vary in size, shape, and characteristics. How many varieties of maple trees are there?

Some of the most well-known maple species include the sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (Acer rubrum), silver maple (Acer saccharinum), and Japanese maple (Acer palmatum).

These trees hold cultural significance in various regions and symbolize changing seasons and natural beauty.

They are also widely planted as ornamental trees in parks, gardens, and urban areas due to their aesthetic appeal and the shade they provide.

10 Types Of Maple Trees In Michigan

tapping maple trees in michigan

Michigan is the world of maples. Thus, many species of this tree can grow widely in this region. They include Boxelder, Sugar, Red, Silver, Amur, Norway, Black, Mountain, Japanese maple, etc.

Let’s delve into the details of each type!

Boxelder Maple

Boxelder Maple

The Boxelder maple, scientifically known as Acer negundo, is native to North America. It can grow in various regions, including the US and some parts of Canada.

People often find them near water sources, such as riverbanks and floodplains.

The Boxelder is famous for its rapid growth, adaptability, and distinctive compound leaves. This Michigan maple tree means each leaf comprises several leaflets radiating from a central point.

Typically, a leaf can have three to seven leaflets. The leaflets are elongated and serrated along the edges.

The bark of young Boxelder is usually smooth and light gray, while older ones become more textured and furrowed.

These species are relatively fast-growing trees, often reaching a height of 30 to 50 feet (9 to 15 meters).

They can tolerate many soil conditions and climates. That’s why this tree is pretty easy to plant in different environments!

Striped Maple

Striped Maple

Striped Maple, scientifically known as Acer Pensylvanicum, is a deciduous tree species native to eastern North America.

It is also commonly called “Moosewood” because moose often feed on its bark and branches. It is known for its distinctive features and is valued for its ornamental qualities.

One of its most distinguishing features is the vertically striped bark. The bark appears greenish and pale, with alternating vertical bands of darker and lighter colors.

Their leaves have multiple palmate lobes that radiate from a central point, resembling the shape of a hand with outstretched fingers. The leaves are deeply veined and have serrated edges.

This tree species is typically found in moist, shaded woodlands, often growing along streams or north-facing slopes. It tends to thrive in areas with consistently cool and humid conditions.

Striped Maple is a relatively small tree, growing to heights of about 15 to 30 feet (4.5 to 9 meters).

Due to its unique appearance and colorful foliage, the Striped Maple is valued as an ornamental tree in gardens and landscapes.

It also plays an ecological role in providing food and habitat for various wildlife species.

As mentioned, its distinct bark pattern and striking leaves make it an intriguing addition to natural woodland environments and cultivated spaces.

Sugar Maple

Sugar Maple

One of the most common types of maple trees in Michigan is the Sugar Maple, scientifically known as Acer saccharum, a maple tree species native to the eastern and central parts of North America.

It is one of the region’s most iconic and economically significant tree species.

The Sugar Maple is renowned for its sweet sap, tapped and processed to produce maple syrup, and its stunning fall foliage.

The leaves are palmate with 5 clear lobes. They are characterized by deep, U-shaped notches between the lobes, giving them a unique appearance.

One of the most celebrated features of the Sugar Maple is its vibrant fall foliage.

The leaves turn various shades of yellow, orange, and red, creating a breathtaking display of colors in the autumn landscape. 

Sugar Maples are tapped in late winter or early spring to collect their sap, which is then boiled down to produce maple syrup.

The sap has a higher sugar content than other maple species, making it ideal for syrup production.

Due to its economic and ecological importance, the Sugar Maple holds a special place in North American culture. It is the state tree of Vermont and is also featured on the Canadian flag.

Red Maple

Red Maple

The Red maple, scientifically known as Acer Rubrum, is a prominent deciduous tree species native to eastern North America.

It is widely distributed across various habitats and is known for its striking fall colors and ecological significance.

Their leaves are typically three-lobed. These maple trees of Michigan are known for their vibrant, red-colored petioles (leaf stems).

During the fall, the leaves will turn brilliant shades of red, orange, or yellow, creating a captivating autumn display.

When young, the bark is smooth and gray, but as the tree matures, it becomes rougher and develops ridges and furrows.

These trees typically grow to 40 to 70 feet (12 to 21 meters). Some can exceed this range.

This species provides important habitat and food for wildlife, including birds, squirrels, and deer. Various animals consume the seeds and buds, and the tree’s branches offer shelter.

Silver Maple

Silver Maple

The Silver Maple is scientifically known as Acer saccharinum. It is known for its rapid growth and its adaptability to various environments.

The leaves of the Silver Maple are palmately lobed, usually with five lobes, though occasionally with three or seven.

One of its most recognizable features is the silvery-white color on the undersides of its leaves, which gives the tree its common name.

The bark of the Silver Maple is often grayish-brown and relatively smooth when young, but it becomes rougher and develops furrows as the tree matures.

Silver Maples can grow quite large, reaching heights of 50 to 80 feet (15 to 24 meters) with a broad crown.

Due to their quick growth and ability to tolerate urban conditions, Silver Maples are commonly planted as shade trees in urban and suburban areas.

While Silver Maples are valued for their adaptability and rapid growth, they can also have some drawbacks.

The wood is softer and weaker than other maple species, and the branches can be prone to breakage during storms. Additionally, rapid growth can result in more fragile branch attachments.

Amur Maple

Amur Maple

Also called Acer Ginnala, the Amur Maple is a small deciduous tree or large shrub native to the Amur River region in eastern Asia.

It is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant due to its attractive features, adaptability, and ease of care.

The leaves of the Amur are simple and three-lobed, resembling those of a typical maple leaf but on a smaller scale.

The leaves are usually green in spring and summer but transform into vibrant shades of orange, red, or purple during the fall.

This tree produces clusters of small, fragrant white to pale yellow flowers in spring. These flowers are not showy but add to the tree’s overall charm.

Amur Maples generally grow to heights of about 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters), making them suitable for small gardens, hedges, or as specimen plants.

One of the notable qualities of the Amur Maple is its adaptability to a wide range of soil conditions and climates.

It can endure both full sun and partial shade and is relatively drought-tolerant once established.

Norway Maple

Norway Maple

The Norway Maple is also known as Acer Platanoides.

It was introduced to North America as an ornamental tree and has become naturalized in some regions, although its invasive tendencies in certain ecosystems have raised concerns in some areas.

Norway can grow to be medium to large trees, reaching heights of 40 to 50 feet (12 to 15 meters) or more, with a dense, rounded crown.

The leaves of the Norway Maple are palmately lobed with five to seven lobes. They are generally larger and broader than those of the native sugar maple.

The leaves are dark green and switch to yellow or orange in the fall, although they do not exhibit the same vivid reds as some other maples.

The tree produces clusters of small, yellow-green flowers that are not particularly showy. These flowers give way to winged samara seeds, characteristic of many maple species.

While the Norway Maple is appreciated for its rapid growth and shade-providing qualities, it’s important to consider its invasive potential and its impact on local ecosystems before planting it in areas where it is not native.

Black Maple Trees

Black Maple

Here comes a relative of Sugar Maple (Acer Saccharum) – the Black Maple (Acer Nigrum), and the two are sometimes hybridized.

The Black Maple is known for its timber quality and its production of maple syrup.

The leaves of the Black Maple are similar in shape to those of the Sugar Maple, with three to five lobes.

Their foliage tends to be darker green than those of the Sugar Maple, which may have contributed to its common name.

Their leaves display striking shades of yellow, orange, and red in the fall, creating a picturesque autumn scenery.

Moreover, they can grow to be medium to large trees, reaching heights of 60 to 80 feet (18 to 24 meters) or more.

Black Maples are typically found in various woodland habitats, often growing alongside other hardwood species.

Its sap can make maple syrup while not as widely tapped for syrup production as the Sugar Maple.

However, the sap has a slightly lower sugar content, requiring more processing to produce the same syrup.

Japanese Maple Trees

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) is a stunning and highly valued tree species native to Japan, Korea, and parts of China. Japanese maple and Chinese maple share some similarities that confuse us.

Yet, the Japanese one is renowned for its intricate and delicate leaves and various forms and colors, making it a sought-after ornamental tree worldwide. Michigan is no exception.

These maple trees Michigan vary in size, with some growing as small shrubs while others can become small to medium-sized trees, typically reaching heights of 6 to 25 feet (2 to 8 meters).

Their leaves come in diverse shapes and sizes, including palmate (hand-like) lobes. They can be deeply dissected or have broader lobes, creating a beautiful array of foliage textures.

The leaves’ colors vary widely, ranging from shades of green to reds, purples, and even variegated patterns.

Depending on the variety, Japanese Maples can have smooth or textured bark. Some cultivars display unique bark colors, textures, or patterns, adding to their visual appeal.

Japanese Maples thrive in well-draining soil and prefer partial shade, especially in hot climates. They require regular watering and benefit from occasional pruning to maintain their shape and health.

Mountain Maple (Acer Spicatum)

Mountain Maple

The Mountain Maple, also known as Acer Spicatum, is a deciduous shrub or small tree native to eastern North America, particularly in regions with cooler climates such as Michigan.

It differs from larger maple tree species and is often found in understory environments within Michigan forests.

This species is usually smaller than many other maple trees, growing as a multi-stemmed shrub or small tree reaching heights of 6 to 20 feet (2 to 6 meters).

The leaves of the Mountain Maple are typically palmately lobed, with three to five lobes per leaf. They are dark green during the growing season and can turn various shades of yellow, orange, or red in the fall.

These trees are often found in moist, wooded areas, especially along stream banks and in other damp, shaded locations.

They tend to thrive in understory conditions, which is the lower level of vegetation below the forest canopy.

While it might not be as widely recognized as larger maple trees, it plays a valuable role in providing habitat and contributing to the diversity of understory vegetation in forests.

How To Care For Michigan Maple Trees

types of maple trees in michigan


Use the mature width of the maple tree as a guide for spacing. Generally, trees should be planted at a distance equal to half of their mature width from structures, other trees, and utility lines.

For example, if a maple tree is expected to have a mature width of 30 feet, plant it at least 15 feet away from other trees or structures.

When planting multiple maple trees, arrange them in rows or groups with sufficient spacing between each tree.

The spacing between trees within a row or group will depend on the mature width of the trees and the desired aesthetic.


When selecting a maple tree for planting, choose a species that is well-suited to your local climate in Michigan. Some maples are more cold-hardy, while others thrive in warmer conditions.

Remember that each maple species may have different temperature tolerances, so it’s important to research the needs of your specific tree.

Proper care, including appropriate watering, mulching, and protection during extreme conditions, will help your maple tree withstand temperature challenges and remain healthy and thriving.


Adequate watering is crucial, especially during the first few years after planting.

Water deeply and less frequently rather than shallow and frequent watering. This encourages deep-root growth.

Monitor soil moisture and adjust watering based on weather conditions and the tree’s needs.


Maple trees prefer an acidic atmosphere. You should also look for nutrient-rich soil. So, if you want to learn how to care for Maple trees, be mindful of the soil in which you put them.

Sunlight And Humidity

The plant’s growth must select a location with plenty of sunshine. Fortunately, maple trees can grow in a variety of lighting circumstances.

However, moderate to full sun exposure is ideal for maples. The amount of sunlight that a plant receives is determined by its location. 

Your maple will benefit from full sun if you reside in a region with a cooler climate in Michigan. Yet if you live in warmer places in the state, it can thrive in partial sun and shade.


Maple trees generally don’t require heavy fertilization, but they can experience stunted growth in poor soils. You should use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring to provide essential nutrients.


In Michigan’s diverse and rich landscapes, the presence of maple trees paints a breathtaking picture of nature’s beauty and resilience.

The intertwining stories of maple trees in Michigan create a narrative of coexistence, where nature’s marvels enhance the lives of residents and visitors alike. I hope you can take care of them properly.

Samuel Mark

Hello I am Samuel. Samuel's Garden is a garden blog where I share my experiences in garden caring and tree growth. Hope you enjoy it!

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