Maple trees are some of the best known and popular sidewalk and shade trees. Sugar maples, Norway maples, swamp maples and Japanese maples are grown far and wide, but there is much more to the maple family. Some of the lesser known varieties have been bred to produce certain qualities and will make people stop and look, trying to figure out just what they are.
Brandywine maple (Acer rubrum ‘Brandywine’) grows up to 25 feet tall with a crown spread of 12 feet. Brandywine takes 12 years to reach full height. The tree is adaptable to different kinds of soil and moisture and needs to be planted in full sun. Brandywine is a hybrid cultivar, a cross between Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’ and A. rubrum ‘Autumn Flame’ . There are only male trees, so there will be no seedlings. Medium-green leaves measure up to 4-1/2 inches long and about the same in width. The leaves turn purple or red in the fall. Brandywine is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8.
Ivy-leaved maple (Acer cissifolium) likes full sun or partial shade and a moist, well-drained soil. The tree grows from 20 to 30 feet tall with a similar crown spread. Olive-green, three-part leaves measurer 1-1/2 to 3 inches long and turn yellow or red in the fall. Ivy-leaved maple is hardy in zones 5 to 8.
Chalk maple or whitebarked maple (Acer leucoderme – Acer saccharum ssp. leucoderme) features pale gray to chalky-white bark on the upper section of the trunk. The tree is hardy in zones 5 to 9 and likes sun or shade and a moist, well-drained soil. Chalk maple naturally produces more than one trunk. Trim the extra trunks away when the tree is young and it will become single trunked. The tree will grow from 25 to 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide with leaves that turn yellow-orange or crimson in the fall.
Florida maple (Acer barbatum spp. floridanum) is hardy further south than other maples, zones 7 through 9. Plant in full sun and a rich, moist, loose soil. The tree will grow from 20 to 25 feet tall and 20 to 40 feet wide. Leaves turn yellow-orange or scarlet in the fall. This maple bears a resemblance to the sugar maple of the north, but with smaller leaves that have tiny hairs on the undersurface.
Hedge maple (Acer campestre) is hardy in zones 4 to 8 and likes full sun or partial shade and a moist well drained soil. This maple grows from 25 to 35 feet tall and about the same in width. Leaves grow up to 4 inches long and turn yellow or yellow-green in the late fall. This tree has a shallow root system. In order to encourage the roots to grow deeper, give the tree a good, deep watering instead of just a quick sprinkle. Shallow roots can get under and lift up a sidewalk.