Florida Forestry Information
Aceraceae
The Maple Family
 
The trees of the maple family are characterized by simple, opposite leaves, and doubly winged fruits called samaras.  Many trees of this family are particularly noted for the high quality timber they produce.  Others serve as fine ornamentals. 

 Click on the links below for introductions to some of the trees of this family:
 
Florida sugar maple
boxelder
red maple
silver maple
 
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Acer barbatum 
Florida sugar maple 
 
Florida sugar maple, photo by Chris Demers  

Habit 

This tree is very similar to the sugar maple (Acer saccharum), which occurs farther north in the Appalachians.  It is a smaller tree than the sugar maple with a similar large, dense, round crown. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are simple, opposite, and deciduous.  The leaves of the Florida sugar maple are significantly smaller than those of Acer saccharum, and are blue-green in color.  They are palmate with 5 lobes.  The leaf margins are entire or irregularly toothed at wide intervals. 
 
Flowers 
 
This tree can be either dioecious or monoecous.  Individual flowers are on long, hairy, drooping stalks. 

Fruit 
 
Fruit is a reddish-brown double samara, which occurs in clusters on slender stalks.  Wings are thin and about 1 inch in length. 

Twigs 

The twigs are slender, shiny, reddish-brown.  The pith is white and homogeneous. 
 
Bark 

The bark is light gray and smooth, becoming darker, thicker, and more furrowed as the tree matures. 
 
Habitat 

The Florida sugar maple occurs on moist soils or on limestone ridges on the coastal plain and Piedmont areas from southeastern Virginia to Florida and west to Arkansas and Texas. 
 
Use 

This tree is of little value as a timber species, but it makes an excellent shade tree.  It is a source of maple sugar. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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Acer negundo 
boxelder 
 
Habit 

The boxelder is a medium-sized tree, usually less than 50 feet in height, with a 2-4 foot diameter trunk.  Limbs are horizontal and branch to form a wide, rounded, bushy crown. 

Leaves 

Leaves are pinnately compound, opposite, and deciduous, with 3-7 or 9 subopposite leaflets.  Leaflets are ovate, oval, or lanceolate, 2-4 inches long, and 1.5-2.5 inches wide .  The leaf margins are coarsely serrate.  Leaves are light green and slightly pubescent (hairy) above, paler below. 
 
Flowers 
 
This tree is dioecious.  Flowers are in drooping clusters. 

Fruit 
 
Fruit is a reddish-brown, V-shaped double samara, which occurs in clusters on slender stalks.  Wings are thin and about 1-1.5 inches in length, commonly persistent through the winter. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are stout, shiny, green or purplish-green.  The pith is white and homogeneous. 
 
Bark 

The bark is thin, gray-brown, with fissures separating narrow ridges. 

Habitat 
 
The boxelder is most common on deep, moist soils near rivers, lakes and swamps.  It is also found on drier upland soils in association with many hardwoods.  The boxelder occurs from Vermont west through western Minnesota; south to Florida and eastern Texas. 

Use 

This tree is of some value as a timber species in the manufacture of cheap wooden products.  It is widely planted as an ornamental and for windbreaks. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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Acer rubrum 
red maple 
 
Habit 

The red maple is a medium-sized tree, usually 40 - 50 feet in height, with a 1 - 2 foot diameter trunk.  Grown in the open, it possesses a dense, narrow, oblong crown branching near the ground.  In the forest, the tree is free of branches for 30 feet or more and produces a narrow, short, round crown. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are simple, opposite, and deciduous.  The leaf margins are coarsely and irregularly serrate.  Leaves are light green above, paler and smooth (glabrous) below.  Leaf petioles are red or reddish-green, 2 - 4 inches in length. 
 
Flowers 
 
This tree can be either dioecious or monoecous.  Flowers are red and in stalked clusters. 

Fruit 
 
Fruit is a reddish-brown double samara, which occurs in clusters on slender stalks.  Wings are thin and about 3/4 of an inch in length. 

Twigs 

The twigs are slender, shiny, reddish-brown.  The pith is white and homogeneous. 

Bark 

The bark is light gray and smooth, becoming thicker and more furrowed as the tree matures. 

Habitat 
 
The red maple is most common on moist bottomland soils or in swamps.  It is also found on drier upland soils.  This tree is frequently associated with cottonwoods, oaks, black ash, and black tupelo.  The red maple occurs from southern Newfoundland, through Quebec, Ontario and northern Minnesota; south through the eastern U.S., from eastern Texas to south Florida. 
 
Use 

This tree is of some value as a timber species, but it is more prized as an ornamental and/or shade tree because of its rapid growth, highly colored flowers and fruit, and autumn color. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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Acer saccharinum 
silver maple 
 
Habit 

The silver maple is a medium-sized tree, usually 60-80 feet in height, with a 2-3 foot diameter trunk.  Branches are divergent, forming a wide-spreading round crown.  Roots are shallow and are frequently near the surface of the soil. 

Leaves 

Leaves are simple, opposite, and deciduous.  Leaves are 6-7 inches in diameter with 5 lobes.  The leaf margins are coarsely serrate.  Leaves are pale green above, silvery below.  Leaf petioles (fleshy stem from which leaf protrudes) are red or reddish-green, and about 4 inches in length. 
 
Flowers 
 
This tree is dioecious, with flowers in dense clusters. 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is a wrinkled, reddish-brown double samara, which occurs in clusters on slender stalks.  Wings are thin and about 1-2 inches in length. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are brittle, slender, shiny, reddish-brown.  The pith is homogeneous. 
 
Bark 

The bark is silvery, thin and smooth, becoming broken into long, loose, scaly plates as the tree matures. 
 
Habitat 
 
The silver maple is mostly restricted to moist bottomland soils, but is capable of development on dry upland sites, particularly as an ornamental.  The silver maple occurs from northeastern Canada west through Ontario; south to north Florida west through Arkansas and Oklahoma. 

Use 

This tree is widely used as an ornamental and/or shade tree.  Care should be used in selecting this tree because of the risk of damage to the very brittle branches during sleet and high winds. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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