The maple tree is one of the most striking: its webbed leaves are very decorative throughout the year, but especially in autumn when they change colors turning red, orange, yellow or purple.
In addition, it gives an excellent shade , which is ideal to enjoy the outdoors in the hottest months. So if you want a nice plant, easy to find in nurseries and relatively easy to care for, this may be the tree you’re looking for. Why? For all that we are going to tell you now.
Characteristics of the maple
The term maple refers to the 160 accepted species of the 600 that have been described belonging to the botanical family Sapindaceae, subfamily Hippocastanoideae. These fantastic plants originate mainly from the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere , being found in North America (United States and Canada), Europe and Southeast Asia. Found mostly in Spain, where they grow naturally in the mountain ranges of the Iberian Peninsula, and you can find some Acer opalus in the Sierra de Tramuntana (north of the island of Mallorca).
They are characterized by having opposite leaves, which are usually palmatilobadas in most of the species, but there are also some that have pinnately compound, palmaticompuesta, pinnate and without lobes labyrinths. They are dioic plants, that is, there are male and female . The flowers, which sprout in late winter or early spring, appear grouped in inflorescences in the form of a cluster, corimbo or umbel. In the event that they are pollinated, the fruits will begin to mature, which are called samaras, which, when detached, are rotated by the wind.
What uses does it have?
Our protagonist, the maple tree, is grown mainly as an ornamental plant and to provide shade . There are many species that grow to reach heights of 10 meters or more, such as the Acer pseudoplatanus (30 meters), the Acer platanoides (25-35 meters), or the Acer rubrum (20-30 meters), among others. The branches often grow more or less horizontal, so the tree adopts an oval or parasol shape.
But it also has other uses: wood is used in the making of musical instruments , and Maple syrup is produced with the sap of the Acer saccharum . In addition, the maple leaf is a national symbol in Canada, and is represented on its flag. And, of course, it is very much grown as a bonsai .
How do you take care of yourself?
Having one of these trees in the garden is wonderful; However, in order to be perfectly healthy, it is very important to be provided with the following cares:
- Location : it must be outside, in semi-shade.
- Soil : it must be fresh, loose, rich in organic matter and with good drainage. Most prefer acidic soils, with pH between 4 to 6, but there are some such as the Acer saccharum, the Acer campestre or the Acer opalus that can grow well on slightly limestone soils.
- Irrigation : very frequent, especially in summer. Generally, it will be watered three-four times a week in summer, and every 3-4 days the rest of the year.
- fertilizer : to make it grow better it is advisable to fertilize it in spring and summer with organic fertilizers in powder form, such as chicken manure (if it is fresh, let it dry in the sun at least a week to prevent the roots from burning), or goat once a month.
- Pruning : it can be pruned at the end of winter, before sprouting leaves. The dry, weak and diseased branches have to be removed, and it can also be used to shape it.
- Planting time : in spring, before the leaves sprout.
- Propagation : by seeds, stratifying them in the fridge for three months and sowing them in seedbed in spring, by cuttings in autumn or late winter, and by air layering in spring. The cultivars are multiplied by grafting.
- Resistance and resilience : depends on the species, but usually hold temperatures well -15ºC.
Which are the most representative species?
To finish, we leave you with some pictures of the most representative species of maple tree: