Maple trees are identified by their leaf shape, opposite branching and special winged seeds called samaras. Leaves on maple trees have three to five lobes, and they vary in length from 3 inches to 12 inches. Opposite branching means side branches grow directly opposite each other moving up the trunk of the tree. Samaras are helicopter-like seeds that glide in air.
Sugar maple trees, or Acer saccharum, reach heights between 60 and 100 feet, and their trunks are more than 3 feet in diameter. Leaves are typically 3 to 5 inches long with five lobes. The fruits of sugar maples are two-winged, horseshoe-shaped samaras that fall to the ground and germinate the following spring.
Red maples, or Acer rubrum, feature leaves that are 2 to 6 inches wide with three lobes that have a V-shape in between them. Samaras are V-shaped and reach up to 1 inch long. These trees reach between 30 and 100 feet in height at maturity. During autumn months, red maple leaves turn deep shades of red.
Aptly named big leaf maple trees, or Acer macrophyllum, have leaves that reach 12 inches wide, the largest of any maple tree species. The leaves of this tree turn yellow in the fall. Roots from this tree cause buckles in sidewalks, and they may interfere with underground pipes.