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More Information About Acer

The genus Acer contains 129 species of trees and shrubs native primarily to the northern hemisphere. The name Acer is derived from the Latin for "sharp, bitter, or harsh" (as in acerbic, acrid, exacerbate, or acetic) which is a reference to the pointed leaves. Asia is the center of diversity of the genus Acer with 99 species living in China alone. The Americas are home to several popular native Acer species including the Red Maple, Silver Maple, Paperbark Maple, and Box Elder. The genus Acer is one of the most widely used genera of ornamental trees in all of horticulture due to their toughness, attractive lobed leaves, fun little helicopter seeds (called samaras) and beautiful fall foliage color. One group in particular, the collection of 6 species known as Japanese Maples, are especially popular with plant breeders who have selected over 1,000 cultivars for the ornamental tree market. In all, there are more than 1,500 maple selections available to gardeners, with several new ones being added every year. Certainly then, there is an acer for you!

In addition to their use as garden specimens, Acer species are used for lumber (especially for maple furniture), maple handled tools, maple flooring, bowling pins, and butcher blocks. The American native plant, Acer saccharum or Sugar Maple, gives its sap to make maple syrup and the young leaves of Acer ginnala, the Amur Maple, are used to make tea. Maples are wonderful plants for the fall garden and pair well with autumn blooming perennials such as muhlenbergia, aster and helianthus. If you are designing a woodland garden for your shade-loving plants, then maple trees are a great choice for providing a canopy for your hostas and aspidistras. When you are ready to buy maple trees for your garden, check out our online list of acer for sale.