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Thread: Red Maple with Sugar Maple Leaves?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2022
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    Essex Junction, VT
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    Default Red Maple with Sugar Maple Leaves?

    My suburban neighborhood is loaded with all sorts of maples including many red maples. Every red maple I've identified has what I think of as the quintessential 3-lobed toothy red maple leaf. But one tree that had red buds this spring at the same time as the other red maples and seems to have red maple bark has leaves -- all the leaves -- that are quintessential sugar maple shape... full Canadian flag leaves. The owner of the tree swears it is sugar maple based on the leaf shape. But I can't get past the red buds, timing of the buds, and the bark.

    Anyone got an explanation for this tree? Do reds and sugars mix? I am assuming the tree, now very mature and in fact dying, originally came from a nursery.

    Andy
    Last edited by Andy VT; 08-01-2022 at 06:47 PM.

  2. #2
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    Dec 2015
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    Weston, CT
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy VT View Post
    My suburban neighborhood is loaded with all sorts of maples including many red maples. Every red maple I've identified has what I think of as the quintessential 3-lobed toothy red maple leaf. But one tree that had red buds this spring at the same time as the other red maples and seems to have red maple bark has leaves -- all the leaves -- that are quintessential sugar maple shape... full Canadian flag leaves. The owner of the tree swears it is sugar maple based on the leaf shape. But I can't get past the red buds, timing of the buds, and the bark.
    Andy
    Could it be a Black Maple?

    Black Maples and Sugar Maples are known to be very difficult to compare by leaf. Not sure about the buds/flowers/blossoms. Bark on Black and Sugar should also be very similar.

    Black Maples are almost always assumed to be or mistaken as sugar maples, but they are a different tree as defined by science, so some things about them are clearly different.

    I do not think either are known to hybridize with any other tree. Not sure if black will hybridize with sugars but they may.
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  3. #3
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    UVM Proctor Maple Research Center, Underhill Ctr, VT
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    Although red maple and sugar maple will sometimes (rarely) hybridize naturally (https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/...cesac/all.html), bark appearance and bud color are two highly variable characteristics that can be notoriously deceptive. Leaf morphology is the most reliable indicator, so if it looks very much like a sugar maple leaf, you most likely have your answer there. Grab some photos and post them so we can take a look.
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr
    http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc
    https://mapleresearch.org
    Timothy.Perkins@uvm.edu

  4. #4
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    Feb 2022
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    Essex Junction, VT
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrTimPerkins View Post
    Although red maple and sugar maple will sometimes (rarely) hybridize naturally (https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/...cesac/all.html), bark appearance and bud color are two highly variable characteristics that can be notoriously deceptive. Leaf morphology is the most reliable indicator, so if it looks very much like a sugar maple leaf, you most likely have your answer there. Grab some photos and post them so we can take a look.
    Cool! I had no idea that a sugar maple could potentially have red buds. It turns out the tree has already been converted into electricity over at Burlington Electric since I started this thread, but I'll bet I can find some of its leaves for a photo.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2022
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    Essex Junction, VT
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    I just realized I may have accidentally spread some vicious misinformation here.
    I said the tree had red "buds" this spring. I meant blossoms.
    The tree had bright red blossoms this spring (I'm not sure if I noticed the color of the buds pre-flower).
    I think I habitually call the blossoms buds. Are we all doing that? I'm going to try to start differentiating!
    Does that change anything? Is it possible for a tree with red flowers in spring to be a sugar maple?

    Side note, when we say the season is over because the tree budded, we really mean it blossomed, don't we? Since the buds are actually present through the whole season? Or maybe we mean when the buds just begin to show signs of opening. I've been a little confused on what part of this process we actually mean by the "budding" that ends the sugaring season. I do know at what point the syrup tasted terrible, and I thought it was buddy but now think it might have been ropey. But I'm not going to start that sub- sub- sub- topic here. :-D I'll just order me one of those "off flavor kits" or something.

  6. #6
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    OK, was able to go over today and trespass only slightly. There was very little left but I found some dead leaves only a little decayed. Now that I've seen leaves up close, after some head scratching, I think I've convinced myself its just red maple. Some of the leaves have the classic sugar maple shape, wider than they are long and with pronounced 4th and 5th points, but others look more classic red maple but still with little dimples making almost 5 points, but longer and thinner than sugar maple. But all of the leaves have sawtooth edges. After looking again at my own sugar maple, it of course has no sign of sawtooth edges. So, all this combined with bark that looks red maple and bright red blossoms that bloomed when the other reds bloomed this spring, I think the neighbor's tree really is (was) red maple but with some interesting leaf shapes. Does this sound like sound reasoning?

    I took pictures as best I could with dead curled up leaves but haven't established where I'll put them for sharing yet.

    Andy

  7. #7
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    west virginia
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    Black Maple/Sugar Maple
    For many years I miss identified a Black Maple tree! Several years ago Tim Wilmont came to my camp for a 3/16 tubing seminar! I showed him my prize Black Maple, he said no! Just because the bark is as black as night does not make it a black maple. Leaves was a dead give away, about 30 feet away was another Sugar Tree with typical gray bark, it had black maple leaves, which now allows me to tell visitors that you can’t judge a sugar tree by its bark!
    I made a video of the difference in the leaves, need to send it to Dr. Abby, then if she feels it would be valuable she could edit and share?
    Mark 220 Maple
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