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Known for their characteristic five-point maple leaf shape and stunning array of fall colors, maple trees are some of the most beautiful deciduous trees you can add to your landscape. But with so many varieties to choose from, how do you know which maple tree is right for you and your landscape? Take a look at these popular maple tree varieties to help you decide on which of these wonderful trees you’re going to take home!


Maple Tree Varieties

We know, you might be thinking, “how many different types of maple trees are there?” With over a hundred different species, it can be pretty overwhelming to decide on just one. Rest assured, whether you’re looking for a shade tree, an accent tree, or a tree to tap some yummy maple syrup, there’s bound to be a perfect maple for you! Here are the best maple trees for your Illinois landscape:


Sugar Maple

As a native to our state, sugar maples are one of the most common maple varieties you’ll find in Illinois. While other maples can produce sap as well, sugar maples are prized for producing exceptionally sweet sap, which makes for some pretty delicious maple syrup. If you’d like to start making some mouth-watering pancake syrup of your own, then the sugar maple is the right maple for you! Keep in mind that only aged maple trees are suitable for tapping, and it would take two to three fully-grown trees to produce enough sap to make one gallon of maple syrup in a season.

Regardless of their sap-producing abilities, sugar maples are excellent additions to your landscape for their stunning foliage display. As fall approaches, their fresh, yellow-green leaves transition into vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red. Sugar maples typically grow about 70 feet tall, making them excellent shade trees. They thrive in cool, moist environments and deep, rich soils.


Sycamore Maple

A towering European native with documented heights of over 100 feet tall and a trunk circumference of up to 7 feet, the sycamore maple is the ultimate shade tree. Though they’re more commonly between 40 and 60 feet tall, these large trees are still no strangers to city roadsides and backyards all over Illinois, covering our streets with their characteristic winged seed pairs. Their leaves are dark green, with light gray-green undersides, and turn golden yellow or red in the fall.

Though their roots aren’t North American, they’ve found themselves fairly comfortable in our moist, well-drained soils. They tolerate a wide range of soil types and can grow in full sun to part shade.


red japanese maple moline


Japanese Maple

Not everyone has the room for a large shade tree. For people with limited space, the Japanese maple offers a smaller frame with the same gorgeous, colorful foliage. With hundreds of different cultivars, these maples are available in a range of sizes, in both shrub and tree form. You’ll recognize their leaves by their deep divisions into five or nine lobes and sometimes weeping branches. Leaf color varies by cultivar, but often display green, yellow, red, or purple foliage that turns scarlet, orange, or purple in the fall.

Japanese maples thrive in moist, well-drained sites, with slightly acidic soils. Since they’re a little more delicate than other maple varieties, they prefer partial sun, preferably with some shade in the afternoon. They don’t tolerate drought very well, so make sure you keep them well-watered.


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Red Maple

Another common maple in our North American woods is the red maple, known for its characteristic crimson red fall foliage. What some don’t realize is red maples can also turn golden yellow in the fall, depending on the cultivar! This fast-growing tree quickly reaches heights 60 feet or more, effectively shading a large area of your landscape.

The red maple’s ability to thrive in a wide range of temperatures and soils has allowed it to reach as far north as Newfoundland and as far south as southern Florida— the greatest continuous range of any tree along the Atlantic coast! With a preference for well-drained soil but a tolerance to poor drainage and occasional flooding, you can rest assured that this tree will easily naturalize itself to your Moline garden.


Silver Maple

A true Illinois native, the silver maple is a lovely, large maple with green leaves and distinct, silvery undersides that cause them to shimmer in the breeze. In the fall, you’ll be treated with brilliant shades of yellow and chartreuse.

Like the red maple, this silver maple is fairly tolerant to a wide range of conditions. It can grow in full sun, but actually prefers shadier areas and very moist soils, making it a great choice for areas of your garden that are too wet for much else to grow. With that being said, it’s really important to make sure this maple gets ample water in times of extended dry heat or drought.


maple tree red striped varieties moline


Striped Maple

Another smaller maple variety for those who have limited garden space, the striped maple is a small, understory tree with some distinct characteristics. It’s named after the unique, green and white vertical stripe pattern found on the bark of the tree. The broad leaves of this maple differ from other varieties as they each have three shallow, pointed lobes, as opposed to the characteristic five lobes of most maples. Leaves turn yellow in the fall.

Striped maple trees grow in full sun to partial shade, but especially appreciate some shelter during the hot afternoon summer sun. They like moist, cool soils with good drainage, and prefer slightly acidic conditions.


Since most maples will naturally take care of themselves once their root systems become established, these magnificent trees are lovely, low-maintenance choices for fantastic foliage. At most, you’ll have to just keep their branches neat and tidy with some annual pruning.

With fall just around the corner, now is the time to consider adding a maple tree to your landscape. Don’t worry, you won’t have to start from seed or seedling! Here at Meyer Landscape & Design in Moline, we have a wide variety of tree plantings available for you to take home to enjoy right away!


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