July 18, 2024

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Maple Leaves

It’s that time of year, cold nights, frosty mornings and leaves crunching under your feet.  It’s the perfect time to spend in the woods viewing the brilliant colors of Mother Nature. There are three colorful trees here in the Northeast that dominate the landscape and if you know their distinguishing characteristics are easily identified.  One of the most popular maples in the Northeast is Sugar Maple.

Sugar Maple Fall Colors

Fall Colors, Sugar Maple

Sugar Maples show off their brilliant red, orange and yellow leaves in the Fall. These leaves are five lobed with a smooth margin, a margin is the outermost edge of the leaf. Most maple leaves are about as long as they are wide and the Sugar Maple measures approximately 3 to 5 inches across. By far the easiest way to identify this maple is by the five pointed lobes.

Fall Color Red Maple

Red Maple Leaf

Red Maple in the Fall also has it’s breath taking hues of red, orange and yellow. Unlike the five lobes of Sugar Maple, Red Maple typically has only three distinct lobes and the margin is toothed. Red Maple is comparative in size to Sugar Maple measuring approximately 3 to 6 inches long. In the summer months the leaf stalk and winged seeds (samaras) have a red tinged color to them.

Striped Maple Fall Leaf

Striped Maple

Striped Maple, also a commonly found tree in the Northeast  does not reach the height or width as other maples do. The biggest distinguishing characteristic of  Striped Maple is the sheer size of it’s leaf.  The leaves may measure as much as eight inches across and as wide.  Like Red Maple the Striped Maple has three lobed leaves with a toothed margin.  The overall appearance of the leaf is somewhat droopy as the leaf edges tend to roll downward and are not as stiff as other maple leaves.  The fall color of this maple is limited to yellow. Another easily identified characteristic is it’s bark, the bark of Striped Maple is smooth,  green in color with white vertical stripes.

Once you learn what to look for in a leaf, identification can be pretty simple.  Enjoy your Fall hike all the beautiful colors that surround you and make sure you take lots of pictures.    Happy Hiking !!