Fun and interesting facts about maple trees

45 Fun Facts About Maple Trees (and Their Tasty Syrup!)

In this article, we will delve into a collection of fun and captivating facts that will leave you marveling at the wonders of the maple tree.

Maple trees, with their vibrant foliage and delectable syrup, have captured our imagination and become beloved symbols of autumn. However, there is more to these majestic trees than meets the eye.

1. There are 132 different species of maple trees worldwide. Asia has the most species of maple trees.

2. The scientific or genus name for all these trees is Acer, and they belong to the family Sapindaceae. A common trait between all of them is their distinctive lobed leaves.

A Japanese maple tree with red leaves, surrounded by white stones and a pond in a Japanese garden
An elegant Japanese maple tree

3. Japan is especially known for its maple trees. The Japanese maple, or Acer palmatum, is not only native to Japan – it’s also native to South and North Korea, China, and Mongolia. Often small, they are known for their beautiful look and spectacular colors. You can usually see them in Japanese gardens.

4. Maple trees are a popular choice for bonsai trees. Besides Japanese maple, there are a handful of other maple species commonly used for making these artful little trees.

5. The Acer palmatum or Japanese maple was first named by Swedish doctor-botanist Carl Peter Thunberg. He chose the name palmatum because the tree’s leaves looked like hands holding out their palms. Many Europeans would learn about Japanese gardens through his drawings of the trees.

6. Maple viewing in Japan is nearly as popular as cherry blossom viewing. The activity of viewing maple trees when their leaves change colors is called momijigari, while in South Korea is is called danpung-nori.

7. Maple tree twigs, bark, and leaves are sometimes used in Chinese medicine. It can be used externally for inflamed eyes and internally to treat liver disease.

A Canada flag
Maple leaf featured on the Canadian flag

8. Maple is the state tree of New York state and maple syrup is the official state flavor of Vermont.

9. Another country famous for its maple trees is Canada. 10 types of maple trees can be found in Canada. Just like in Japan, the changing of the leaf colors of maple trees attracts many tourists to Canada.

10. A red maple leap graces the Canadian flag ­– no other flags in the world have a maple leaf on them.

11. Quebec province in Canada accounts for 70% of the world’s maple syrup production. This sweet syrup is made from the sap of maple trees. 20% of maple syrup is made in the US, and the final 10% by other provinces in Canada.

12. Quebec even has a popular festival revolving around the Cabane a Sucre (Sugar Shack), the small cabins where maple syrup is collected from.

13. Most maple syrup comes from one species of the maple tree, the Acer saccharum or “Sugar Maple”. It is a large tree and is also known for its beautiful autumn foliage colors.

Close up of a tap in a maple tree with blue bucket to collect the sap
A tap for collecting maple sap

14. The tradition of collecting and concentrating the syrup originated with the North American indigenous people. After Europeans arrived, they adopted the practice, especially in the 1970s, when they refined the technique.

15. The indigenous people also used maple tree bark to make various medicinal remedies. The bark was believed to have properties helpful in treating coughs, diarrhea, and wound healing.

16. Maple tree sap only contains about 2-3% sugar. The sap therefore has to be boiled down to produce maple syrup, which is around 67% sugar and 33% water.

17. It takes around 40 liters of maple sap to produce 1 liter of maple syrup!

18. Canada exports around $500 million worth of maple syrup every year. Two-thirds of that goes to the United States. If you’ve ever tasted maple real syrup anywhere, it was probably from Canada.

Scoops of maple syrup on snow
Making maple taffy on snow

19. The fake version of maple syrup, often labeled “pancake syrup”, is made from corn syrup. It contains no real maple syrup.

20. There are several cocktails made with maple syrup, mostly in Canada. These include Benton’s Old Fashioned (which also has a hint of bacon, another famous Canadian food) and Maple Old Fashioned.

21. Maple syrup is often used to sweeten or flavor teas. However, a less common herbal tea is made from the leaves of maple trees. It has a nutty flavor and is slightly sweet.

22. Maple syrup donuts, cookies, fudge, ice cream, candy, beer, vinegar, and more can also be enjoyed in Canada and the northeastern United States.

23. Maple syrup can be used as a natural food preservative. The antimicrobial properties of maple syrup have been studied, and it has been found to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria and fungi, making it a potential natural food preservative.

24. Maple trees lend their name to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the official NHL (National Hockey League) team of Toronto, Canada.

Dark maple trees in front of a house
Maple trees in Norway

25. Besides North America and Japan, Norway is also known for its maple trees. But in North America, Norway maples are known as “Tree Killers”. After they were introduced to Canada, they became an invasive species, as they suppressed the growth of native trees and plants.

26. In medieval times in Northern Europe, maple wood was used to make mazers, a kind of carved drinking vessel. It is possible that the word “mazer” influenced the word “maple”.

27. Maple tree leaves change color in autumn due to the breakdown of chlorophyll. This produces vivid colors like red, yellow, and orange before the leaves dry up and fall off.

28. The leaves of some maple species can produce natural dyes. Extracts from maple leaves have been used to create vibrant yellow, orange, and green dyes for textiles and crafts.

29. Sugar Maple wood, or “hard maple”, is widely used for furniture, flooring, and cabinets due to its strength, durability, and attractive grain patterns.

Close up of a violin made from maple wood
A maple wood violin

30. Hard maple is also a popular choice for making bowling pins and lanes, pool cues, butchers’ blocks, and archery bows

31. Maple is also used to make many musical instruments like violins, guitars, and pianos. It is considered a tonewood, which means it carries sound waves well.

32. The maple wood bat was first introduced to Major League Baseball in 1998, and today it is the standard wood used for MLB bats.

33. Les Paul, one of the pioneers of the solid wood/electric guitar, wanted an all-maple guitar. But due to the weight of maple, only the tops of Gibson’s famous Les Paul guitars are made from carved maple.

34. The scientific name of maple, Acer, means “sharp” or “keen”, referring to the hard nature of its wood.

Close up of an old fashioned cocktail with smoke hovering around it and candied orange slice fastened to the side of the glass with a clothes pin
A maple smoked cocktail

35. Due to its lovely scent, Maple wood may also be used for the smoking of food or drinks. Maplewood charcoal is even used for making Tennessee whiskey.

36. Maple is also great for making pulp, which is then used to make paper. Paper made from maple is considered ideal for printing.

37. The oldest known maple tree is 400 to 500 years old. Called the Comfort Maple, it can be found in the town of Pelham, Ontario, and stands 24.4 meters tall, with a circumference of 6 meters.

38. The seeds of maple trees are contained in winged structures called samaras or “helicopters” that spin as they fall, helping with seed dispersal. Their shape has even inspired certain drones. The seed inside the helicopter’s pod is edible!

39. Some maple species have distinctive bark patterns, such as the silver maple (Acer saccharinum) with its shaggy, grayish bark.

Close up of maple tree seeds still attached the tree
Helicopter-shaped maple seeds

40. Maple trees are sometimes thought to symbolize wisdom or dreams. According to this site, they remind us to “shift our reality we must take whatever action is required to achieve our dreams.”

41. In spring, maple trees are a major source of pollen for honeybees before other plants have flowered. These honeybees play a very important role in the ecosystem and agriculture/economy.

42. Maple tree sap has even been used as a source of alternative energy. Researchers have explored the possibility of using maple sap as a renewable resource for producing biofuels.

43. Certain species of maple trees have been found to exhibit “bioluminescence” or natural glowing. The phenomenon is caused by fungal infections that create a chemical reaction resulting in the tree emitting a faint glow.

Close up of some orange maple leaves on a tree, with more yellow ones in background
Beautiful maple leaf colors in fall

44. While maple trees are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves in winter, some maple trees exhibit a phenomenon known as “marcescence,” where they retain their dead leaves throughout the winter. This unusual trait is most commonly observed in young or juvenile trees.

45. Maple trees can serve as natural indicators of air pollution. Some maple species, like the Norway maple (Acer platanoides), are particularly sensitive to air pollutants such as ozone, and their leaves show distinctive damage patterns in polluted areas.

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