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Maple Tree Identification & Mapping

Use our maple tree identification tips to map your maple trees for tapping.

Tree mapping and maple tree identification are the first steps to take when you start maple syruping. It’s easiest to identify and map your trees in the summer or fall, when the leaves are in full bloom. By mapping your maple trees, you’ll know which trees you can tap in the winter, and what species of maple those trees are.

Maple Tree Identification & Mappping
Learn how to identify and map different species of maple trees for winter tapping.

To start mapping your trees, you need to go out and locate them. The easiest way to map your maple trees is by printing out a satellite map of your property. As you walk through your property, mark and number your trees. You can mark your trees with flagging tape or marking paint. Also mark and number the trees on your map.

When you’re mapping your trees, you can identify which ones are maple trees you can tap. We recommend bringing sandwich bags for keeping leaf samples and a camera to take any pictures of your trees. It’s also a good idea to bring a ruler or tape measure to measure the leaves.

By looking at the leaves and bark, you can figure out what kind of maple trees you have. You can tap sugar maple, black maple, red maple and silver map trees for maple syrup.

Sugar Maple Tree Identification

Sugar maple trees can grow to be 100 feet tall. Sugar maple leaves are three to five inches wide and have five lobes with a round base. The leaf edge will not have any serrated teeth. The leaves are bright green and the underside is light green. On older sugar maple trees, the bark is dark brown, and grows in thick, long strips. The strips look like they’re vertically pealing from the trunk.

Black Maple Tree Identification

Black maple leaves are fairly similar to sugar maple, but have only three lobes. Black maple tree leaves also have a tendency to droop, differentiating them from the other maple tree species. The bark of a black maple tree is similar to that of a sugar maple, but it’s a little darker and the grooves are deeper.

Red Maple Tree Identification

Red maple trees can grow to be 90 feet tall. In the fall, they’re easily recognizable by their bright red leaves. In the summer, they’ll be light green with a whitish underside. Red maple leaves grow to be two to six inches wide, with three lobes. The leaf edges have small, sharp teeth. The bark on a young red maple tree is gray and smooth. As the tree matures, the bark gets darker and can become scaly.

Silver Maple Tree Identification

Silver maple trees can grow to be between 70 and 100 feet tall. Silver maple leaves grow to be five to seven inches wide, with five lobes. The leaf edges have fine teeth. In the summer, the leaves are pale green with a silver/white underside. A young silver maple will have gray bark with hints of red. As a silver maple tree matures, the bark has a shaggy appearance, with long, skinny plates. The bark is a reddish brown, setting it apart from the darker bark of the red, black and sugar maple trees.

After you map and identify your maple trees, you can start maple syruping. For more on what supplies you need and how to make maple syrup from the sap you collect, check out our maple syruping blog.

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